HINDU FILMMAKER REACHES AGREEMENT WITH MUSLIM PROTESTERS
Ending a row between Indian Hindu filmmakers and Muslim protesters, director Kamal Hassan said today (Saturday) that he has agreed to mute the audio in several scenes of his spy thriller Vishwaroopam that the protesters had deemed offensive. Following a five-hour mediation conference overseen by Home Secretary R. Rajagopal of the state government of Tamil Nadu, where the film had been banned, Hassan, who also stars in the film, said, “We discussed many scenes with our Muslim brothers and finally both parties have agreed to delete some sound clips from the movie.” He added that he hopes that a state court will now lift the ban when it comes up for reconsideration on Feb. 6. Mohammad Yusuf, head of a Muslim group that participated in the negotiations, made no mention of sound edits. “They have agreed to remove all the objectionable scenes,” he said. “A total of sevens scenes would be removed.” Earlier in the week, the court-ordered ban on the $20-million film had touched off anger in India’s Bollywood community inasmuch as it was imposed after it had already been approved by India’s film censorship board. Several top Indian filmmakers had complained that the ban suppressed freedom of expression. But authorities in other countries have also halted distribution of Vishwaroopam. According to several reports, the film faces a total blackout throughout the Middle East. Authorities in Sri Lanka are due to review its release in that country next week, and the government of Malaysia has reportedly shut down screenings of the film after it opened there on Jan. 25.