Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar came out in support of Kamal Haasan after his film Vishwaroopam was forced out of cinemas by the Tamil Nadu government and gave rise to a debate on limits to freedom of expression.
Vishwaroopam, which was to open in cinemas on Friday (January 25), was mired in controversy with some Muslim groups protesting over its alleged depiction of the community in a negative light.
The tussle over what is acceptable material for movie audiences is the latest example of a recurring problem with art in India. If it offends someone, anyone, it risks being deemed unsuitable for everyone.
Kumar, was speaking on the issue in Varanasi on Friday, while promoting his upcoming film Special 26.
"I feel it is absolutely incorrect to impose restrictions on an artist. While watching the news I saw that everyone was supporting Kamal Haasan and I want to express my gratitude to the media for backing him. He has made a film and it should be seen as a film only," he said.
Haasan has run into troubled waters ever since his film courted controversy over certain scenes in the film that are being deemed as anti Islamic by Muslim groups.
However, it is still not clear whether the lifting of the ban would lead to the screening of the film in the theatres as the Tam,il Nadu government could still prevent its screening citing law and order concerns.
The 58-year-old director said that he might have to follow the footsteps of late India painter, M. F. Hussain who opted for self-exile after being criticised for some of his art work.
Haasan who has worked in at least 200 films denied that his movie was against Muslims and has called the efforts by some to label its contents anti-Muslim a form of cultural terrorism.
He said that most of his Muslim fans have lauded the film and do not find its content derogatory as being popularly projected.