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Censors and filmmaker bow to Islamists

Spy thriller to be re-edited after protests reporter, Thiruvananthapuram

January 31, 2013

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Noted Indian filmmaker Kamala Hassan has bowed to Islamic groups who had his movie Vishwaroopam - Transfiguration - banned shortly after its release in Tamil Nadu.  

“I’ve given a list of scenes to be deleted and some words from the Holy Qur'an will be removed," Hassan told the media after meeting the representatives of Islamic radical organizations on Wednesday.

Hassan, a self-proclaimed atheist, self-produced the 950 million rupee (US$19 million) Tamil language movie.

The state government agreed to ban it when Muslim groups complained that it associated their community with terrorists and presented the Qur'an and Islam in a derogatory manner.

The spy thriller, shot mostly in Afghanistan, was also released in Canada, US and Europe, where it was well received by the global Tamil audience, media reported. It had been cleared by the national censorship board prior to its January 25 release. 

Leela Samson, head of the board, was “shocked” by the protest, according to media reports. 

"This is the hounding of an artist. Those objecting the movie have the freedom not to view it," she said.

While Tamil Nadu, which is 5.6 percent Muslim, banned the movie, neighboring Kerala, where Muslims make up a quarter of the population, has the movie showing on 82 screens.

"It was unfortunate that Hassan had to yield to the pressures of Islamic radicals and do a re-edit. But he has no other way as he had spent his life savings on the film,” said Aryaden Shoukath, an award-winning filmmaker and politician based in Nilambur, a Muslim majority area of Kerala.

“I feel bad as a filmmaker and a Muslim. It’s a dangerous trend as fringe Islamic groups are dictating on culture and art,” Shoukath told

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