As the Madras High Court continued to hear the case against Kamal Haasan’s ‘Vishwaroopam’, spiritual leader Shri Shri Ravi Shankar advised Muslims to simply ignore the controversial movie. He said a ban on ‘Vishwaroopam’ will only make the issue bigger and give it wide scale publicity.
The court on Monday asked Haasan to meet govt officials in Tamil Nadu and look for a middle ground to resolve the row. It also said that it had to consider law and order concerns and the actor’s investment in the movie in order to take a final decision on lifting the ban.
‘Viswaroopam’ was banned last week after Muslim groups protested over the alleged portrayal of the community as terrorists, and a high court judge viewed the film over the weekend. ‘Viswaroopam’ was scheduled to be released on January 25.
“If someone has depicted Muslim religion or Muslim people in a bad light, we don’t have to be concerned about it. Do not take these things too seriously. Entertainment is entertainment – people see it and then forget it. Anything which is banned attracts more publicity,” he told his followers, whom he addressed as “Muslim brethren”, in a video posted YouTube.
Shankar, who took a shrewd standpoint, understood the nature of internet virals. “Even when something is banned it will go on YouTube and hundreds and thousands of people will anyway watch it. In this age of communication and multimedia, nobody can stop anyone from airing their views and sometimes they are not right and still they have the right to air their views,” he said.
But Vishwaroopam, a Rs 95-crore film that has been written, produced and directed by Haasan, isn’t the only target of his ire. The guru was also upset with the 2012 film ‘Oh My God’ starring Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal.
“A similar incident that has happened like the Vishwaroopam a few months ago in a movie called Oh My God where Indian ethos, Hindu culture, the puja and worship in the temple and ashrams were shown in a very, very bad light. It was openly derogatory to our worshipping puja style and criticizing almost every aspect of the Hindu culture,” he said.
Shankar said he advised religious leaders against protesting against OMG. “I gave them an advice – protesting will only make the movie even bigger. Whenever you protest or boycott or ban something it gains much more publicity. When we just let them be, say what they want to say, it just dies down. Seeing that movie, nobody stopped going to temples, in fact those people that acted in the movie also continued going to the temple,” he said.
Devotees are increasing at all temples and people are visiting ashrams in big numbers, he said.”These movies do not really have a big impact that we think would disturb the people. How many movies in Tamil Nadu have depicted Hinduism in a very, very bad light? People are intelligent. The
best thing is just laugh and let go”.
Shankar said he was confident that the bond between Hindus and Muslims in Tamil Nadu would not be affected by the release of Vishwaroopam.
The film was slated to be released in 40 theatres across the state, including 12 in the city. But its opening was delayed as Bangalore Police Commissioner Jyothiprakash Mirji wanted to view it before giving the nod for its screening, sole distributor of the multi-lingual movie in the state HD Gangaraju said.
Mirji watched the Rs 100 crore budget film at a special screening this afternoon but is yet to convey his decision, Gangaraju said. The film, facing a two week-ban in Tamil Nadu due to its alleged anti-Muslim content, hit screens worldwide on January 25 but its release was deferred in Karnataka till today following a police suggestion in view of “Milad-un-Nabi” and Republic Day.
However, Mirji on Sunday expressed his wish to view the film before giving permission for its release in view of a group clash in Bhadravathi on Saturday over the screening of the film, Gangaraju, also a former President of Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce, said.
Tension gripped Bhadravathi town in Shimoga district when two groups clashed over the screening of the film, prompting police to use canes to disperse them. The district administration had imposed prohibitory orders under section 144 of the CrPC for 48 hours in the town.