Even as the Muslim groups are gathering support across the globe against the movie "Vishwaroopam", Tamil superstar Rajinikanth has come out in support of Kamal Haasan who has acted, produced and directed the troubled movie.
The Tamil and Telugu versions of "Vishwaroopam", which deals with the adversities of war, was scheduled to release Friday, but the Tamil Nadu government Wednesday imposed curbs on it following protests from Muslim groups.
A day later, Kamal challenged the ban by the state government in the Madras High Court. In his plea, he contended that the movie was cleared by the censor board and the state government could not ban it.
The court restricted the film's release till Jan 28. A judge will see the movie Jan 26 and decide on its fate.
Expressing his sadness at the developments against Kamal's movie, Rajinikanth appealed to the Muslim groups to give up their demand for the ban on "Vishwaroopam".
"I request my Muslim brothers to sit with Kamal Haasan, discuss and release the film without hampering the storyline. He is no ordinary artiste but an extraordinary one who can take Tamil cinema to all new levels," the super star said in a statement.
"Kamal and I have been friends for over 40 years and I know personally for a fact that he wouldn't hurt the sentiments of anybody let alone Muslims," he said and added he is upset at the hardship Kamal underwent in investing around Rs.100 crore in producing the film.
According to Rajinikanth, the pre-release screening of "Vishwaroopam" to Muslim organisations shows his love and regard for them.
"He should be respected for the fact that he screened the film to Islamic leaders before its theatrical release," said Rajini.
Meanwhile, the Andhra Pradesh government Friday stopped the release of "Vishwaroopam" in Hyderabad after some Muslim organisations complained that the movie hurt religious sentiments of the community.
State Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy directed police to stop the screening till Jan 28 after some Muslim leaders called on her and demanded a ban on it.
Following this, the Hyderabad police commissioner asked cinema distributors not to screen the movie at theatres in the city.
Screening of the movie was stopped midway at some theatres in Hyderabad. The morning show had started at a few multiplexes before the state home minister decided to suspend the release in view of the objections raised by some Muslim groups.
"We were asked to vacate the theatre after the interval. No reasons were given. We were only told that there is some problem," said Vinod Reddy, a student who was watching the movie at a multiplex.
The theatre management refunded the money.
When asked if he found anything objectionable, Reddy said: "It would be difficult to comment without watching the complete movie."
The Cyberabad police commissioner, covering areas around Hyderabad, also directed theatres to stop "Vishwaroopam" screening.
Officials said the orders were issued in view of the demands by Muslim organisations. Also, there were fears of law and order problems on the occasion of Milad-un-Nabi being celebrated Friday.
It was not immediately clear if the movie would be released in the rest of the state.
The movie in Tamil and Telugu was scheduled for release Friday; the Hindi version, titled "Vishwaroop", is set to hit the screens Feb 1.
Earlier, the film's release got into trouble when Kamal decided to premiere it first on the DTH and then into the theatres. The distributors opposed the idea, and he had to change his release plans.