Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam is returning to cinemas in Malaysia -- but only after muting brief sections of the film that disturbed some Muslim viewers.
The film was yanked from Malaysian theaters the day after it opened on January 25, even though it had been approved by the Film Censorship Board (LPF). According to The Hollywood Reporter, the LPF acted in response to "letters of protest filed by the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma) and the Federation of Malaysian Indian Muslim Associations (Permim) complaining of religious insensitivity, Following a series of reviews with participation from Kimma and Permim, LPF chairman Raja Azahar said in a statement: 'The approval is given with the condition that the distributor agrees to additional cuts to the movie."
The censorship is said to involve 16 brief sections that will be muted so that the potentially offensive dialogue will not be heard.
In his review, our own J Hurtado touched on the troubles experienced by Hasaan in making the film, noting:
The film has been in the news in India for months, partly due to some clever publicity stunts engineered by Mr. Haasan, and partly due to lingering concerns in politically-correct India that it would be offensive to Muslims, the country's second largest religious group. In fact, as of this review, the film is still under a ban in its native Tamil Nadu due to what some are saying is an overtly negative portrayal of Muslims. So, this may be one of the first reviews you see, simply because Kamal Haasan is fighting a 15 day ban against the film in the region in which it is likely to do the best business. This is the world in which we live.
He concluded: "If you can overlook the inane Anglo characters that populate much of the film's second half, there is plenty to enjoy about Vishwaroopam. I'd been watching the trailers intently for months, and they do not do the film justice. Vishwaroopam is proof, to me, that Kamal Haasan still has some juice, and he managed to exceed my modest expectations, Vishwaroopam is good fun!"
Film Business Asia reports that the distributor has not yet announced when the film would return to theaters. In the meantime, "pirated DVD copies have circulated widely in Malaysia."
As to the temporary ban in Tamil Nadu, that was lifted on February 7, but only after cuts were made. So the Malaysia censorship is only the latest example of the problems experienced by Hasaan in making his movie.