The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday asked the state government to provide security to theatres who want to screen Tamil superstar Rajinikanth's "Kaala" in Tamil and other versions from Thursday.
Justice G. Narendar's interim order came on a petition filed on Monday by the film's producer Dhanush and director Aishwarya, seeking its direction for police protection to exhibitors from pro-Kannada activists, who opposed the film's screening to protest the megastar's recent remarks on the sharing of the Cauvery river water between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
Dhanush is Rajinikanth's son-in-law and Aishwarya is his daughter.
State's Additional Advocate General A.G. Shivanna told the court during the hearing that the state government did not ban the screening of the film but the distributors and exhibitors had voluntarily decided not to screen it to avoid any law and order problem.
He also assured the court that the state government would provide security to theatres screening the film in the state.
The court also directed the petitioners to submit names of distributors who bought the film's rights and list of exhibitors ready to screen it under security.
The petition also wanted the court to restrain the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) from preventing the film release in the state.
"It is our fundamental right under Article 19 (1) to exhibit the film certified under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)," said the petitioners.
The petition also referred to the May 30 statement by KFCC President Sa Ra Govindu that a decision was taken not to distribute or screen "Kaala" in the state in protest against Rajinikanth's views on the Cauvery dispute, asking Karnataka to comply with the Supreme Court's order on releasing the river water to Tamil Nadu.
The 67-year-old superstar hails from Bengaluru where he was conductor in the state-run public transport service in the city. He also acted in Kannada movies.
Meanwhile, state Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy said it was not advisable to screen the film in view of the prevailing public sentiment against Rajinikanth's views on the sensitive issue of Cauvery.
"I have not got the court order yet. We respect the order and will comply with it as a responsible government. As a Kannadiga, however, my advice is to avoid screening the film to prevent any untoward incident and trouble to the people," he told reporters.
Govindu said the Chamber would not withdraw its objection to the film's release in the state as it was against the public sentiments.
"We request the distributors and exhibitors to respect the people's stand and avoid screening the film in the state to maintain peace and safety of the people," he told reporters.Watch the trailer here: