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Lotus Five Star spent RM4mil on 'Vishwaroopam'

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KUALA LUMPUR: Local distributor of the controversial movie Vishwaroopam, Lotus Five Star Sdn Bhd, has spent close to RM4 million in their efforts to bring the movie to the country.

An official of the company told Astro Awani that on top of the usual copyright cost of RM3 million to purchase the movie from India, print cost of RM400,000 and promotional activities ammounting to RM150,000, the company had to incur unscheduled losses by refunding tickets following the Home Ministry's suspension of the movie.

“Kamal Hassan is a very popular actor and usually his movies are eagerly anticipated by his fans. For Vishwaroopam, his fans here have made at least one week advance booking prior to the movie being released, to obtain the tickets.

“After the movie was suspended, we had to turn away hundreds of thousands of fans by refunding their tickets.

“A total of 300,000 tickets worth RM10 were refunded to 65 theatres which were supposed to screen the movie,” the spokesperson added.

However, the official said that despite the monetary and emotional toil, the company is keeping their fingers crossed and trying to stay positive, hoping the movie will be able to be screened again.

“After going through all these hassles, the best outcome for us would be a green light to release the movie.

“Our board of directors have met up with Home minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein on Monday  to discuss the suspension. We have put forward our problems and grouses,” he said adding that no decision was made on the fate of the movie during the meeting.

The official said that they have also met up with Muslim non-governmental organisation groups who are against the movie.

“The NGO's agreed that if the religiously controversial parts of the movie are edited out, then they have no qualms over it being released. Talks are still currently ongoing,” he said.

Meanwhile, local movie producers and directors agree that it would make better sense to allow edited version of the movie to run in theatres.

Director and actor M.Subash said not releasing the movie at all would not be fair to production houses.

“I have watched the movie. As a film director, I would say that the movie is a fantastic piece of art with a remarkable storyline.

“However, I do agree that certain parts may touch the sensitivities of certain religion. For instance, there was a part where a Muslim prayer session was not headed by an ‘Imam’. Some may find that very offensive.

“If such parts are edited out, then the movie would be perfectly fine with everyone,” he said.

Producer and artist P. Vijay, or better known as Vijay Emergency, said this is the first time a movie had been released and than suspended in the country.

However, he said that censor board has every right to approve and ban a movie even after it has been released.

“Yes, the production house in question will incur losses due to the decision. Gaining profit and incurring losses are part of the industry. We all take such risks everyday.

“In the case of Vishwaroopam, I believe that if some scenes are deleted, then it could be screened. Even if the three hour long movie is shortened to one and a half hour, it would be justified,” he said.

The movie was banned in Malaysia after Muslim-centered groups protested that its content is religiously offensive.

However, Malaysian politicians urged the authorities to lift the ban on the movie.

In Tamil Nadu, the movie was banned following protests from Muslim groups over its content.

Kamal Haasan had later announced that Vishwaroopam, which was originally planned to be releases in Tamilnadu on January 11, will finally hit theatres across the Indian state on February 7.

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Tags: Vishwaroopam, Kamal Hassan, Lotus Five Star Sdn Bhd, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein