Friday February 22, 2013
So much drama over a movie
By DORAIRAJ NADASON
The ban on Tamil movie Vishwaroopam has been lifted and it looks likely to be a hit when screening begins. Meanwhile, another angry – and ugly – drama is unfolding.
So, the ban on the movie Vishwaroopam has finally been lifted.
Malaysians can now get to see an Indian movie that’s fairly top class.
I am glad that common sense has finally prevailed, albeit with cuts to the movie.
The ban, I thought, was quite silly really.
It sure was an exercise in futility.
Every Muthu, Samy and Sundram I know has seen the movie – in its entirety. It’s available on the Net! There are also many who have downloaded it.
The biggest loser, of course, has to be the local distributor. Pirate VCD sellers who have been complaining of poor business lately are now smiling from ear to ear. This movie has been selling like hot cakes.
I was in Prai in Penang a few days ago and a VCD seller came to a coffeeshop. Within minutes, his stock of this movie was gone.
I have seen parts of the movie and I don’t remember feeling that it would cause any offence. Maybe it is just a case of me not being aware of things.
It has a Muslim posing as an effeminate Hindu dance master who turns out to be a macho super spy who kicks butt and then helps the FBI break into an al-Qaeda terrorist network in the United States.
All quite the usual Bollywood masala stuff.
In addition to that, the hero-producer Kamal Haasan does dance very well.
Yet, it has been a movie that has aroused emotions, all sorts of emotions.
In Tamil Nadu, the state government banned it after some Muslims were apparently enraged.
Kamal Haasan was then reduced to tears.
He had spent much of his life’s savings – even mortgaged his house – for this movie.
He had spent close to 100 crores (about RM60mil) in making it.
A ban meant he would be financially ruined. He threatened to quit Tamil Nadu, even quit India.
Then, his fellow actors became indignant. Actors with huge followings like Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Aamir Khan came to his defence.
Some of them were Muslims too and they saw nothing wrong with this movie.
It was just another movie, and a well-made one.
They rallied their troops and so did Tamil Nadu’s own Khan – Rajinikanth. Kamal Haasan’s tears then turned to triumph.
With the fans of all these blockbuster stars rushing to the theatres in north India where it was released without any problem, the actor-producer could afford to smile.
When it was finally released in Tamil Nadu, there was a mad, mad rush for tickets.
Vishwaroopam has now become one of India’s all-time top grossing movies. It is also doing well in the United States and Britain.
The producer will probably be having only words of thanks for the people who had wanted the movie banned.
It turned out to be good news for him in the long run.
In fact, he is now planning Vishwaroopam 2.
Now, even Lord of the Rings producer Barrie Osborne wants the Indian actor in his movie after watching him in action in Vishwaroopam.
The movie is about to be screened in Malaysia, sometime next week.
The crowd will likely rush to the theatres to watch it in full clarity. The picture quality of the movie on the Net isn’t all that good.
But the lifting of the ban hasn’t quelled emotions, at least not in this country.
Another row is now all set to rage, with controversial lecturer Ridhuan Tee Abdullah weighing in on the matter.
He had criticised the movie and MIC’s defence of it.
To make matters worse, he started throwing in some choice words about other Hindu matters, like the Thaipusam celebrations at Batu Caves.
The MIC folk are angry.
A police report has been lodged against him and S. Vell Paari, the son of former MIC leader Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, has also lashed back at him.
I wonder if Ridhuan Tee had watched the movie before making his criticism, or had just shot his mouth, as he has so often been accused of.
He certainly has ruffled a few feathers with his most recent rant.
Even as the movie is about to play, another drama now unfolds in Malaysia.
Or is it just politics as usual?
> The writer is looking forward to his next day-off, so he can get a ticket to the movie and try to figure out where the cuts were made. He needs to learn what others are so sensitive about, and why.