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CM Kumaraswamy for deferring ‘Kaala’ release, Karnataka High Court directs peaceful screening

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Bengaluru: Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy on Tuesday backed deferring the release of Rajinikanth-starrer ‘Kaala‘ in Karnataka after the high court directed the state government to provide necessary security for peaceful screening of the movie opposed by pro-Kannada outfits.

Kumaraswamy, however, said the government would implement the directions of the Karnataka High Court which came on a plea by the producers seeking directions for smooth release of the film. Pro-Kannada outfits have threatened to stall the film, set to hit the screens on June 7, over the actor’s reported remarks on the Cauvery row involving Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. In an appeal as a ‘Kannadiga’, Kumaraswamy requested the distributor of the film not to release it in “this kind of atmosphere”.

“As the state government, I have to implement the directions of the high court. That I will take care of. It is my responsibility also. We will have to follow the high court direction,” he told reporters here. But, Kumaraswamy said: “According to my observation as an individual, not a chief minister, as a Kannaidaga…I request the producer or distributor of the movie, in this kind of atmosphere, it is not good on their part to release the movie,” he said.


Noting that he himself was a film distributor and producer, the JDS leader said releasing the film would not be useful to the distributor financially. “Why unnecessarily by releasing the movie this kind of controversy they wanted to create. It is not necessary,” he said adding they can release it after a solution was reached to the Cauvery water sharing issue.

Kumaraswamy said Karnataka Film Chambers of Commerce and several Kannada organisations were “very much” opposing the release of the movie” and added, “they (distributor) must oblige the opposition from the film chamber and Kannada organisations.” In the high court, Justice G Narendar issued the direction citing a Supreme Court order, which had stayed ban orders imposed on the release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film ‘Padmaavat’ by four states, including Rajasthan, early this year.

“Freedom of speech and expression, particularly as a medium of expression in films, cannot be curtailed. The creative content is am insegregable aspect of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution,” the judge said, citing the Supreme Court verdict on the release of the film ‘Padmaavat’. The Supreme Court in January had cleared the release of ‘Padmaavat’ and had stayed ban orders imposed by Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana. Miffed with Rajinikanth’s reported comments that whichever government coming to power in Karnataka should implement the Supreme Court order on Cauvery water sharing in toto, KFCC had on May 29 decided not to allow screening of ‘Kaala’.

Earlier, Additional Advocate General A G Shivanna said there was no ban imposed on the release of ‘Kaala’ and the government is prepared to give security to exhibitors if they furnished details. Justice Narendar, however, observed that he cannot make it mandatory on exhibitors to screen the film. The court was hearing a petition by Kaala’s producer K Dhanush and his wife Aishwarya, son-in-law and daughter of Rajinikanth, who sought directions to the Karnataka government and the KFCC for smooth release of the film.

They had made the state government, home department, state police chief, Bengaluru city police commissioner, Central Board of Film Certification and KFCC as respondents. During the hearing, Dhanush’s counsel Chintan Chinnappa argued that it was the fundamental right of the petitioners under the Constitution to exhibit the film which has received the censor board certification.

The KFCC had said it had neither instructed protesters nor the exhibitors to exhibit the film. “The exhibitors and distributors on their own took the decision not to screen and release the film, citing security reasons,” KFCC president Sa Ra Govindu had said. Many pro-Kannada organisations had threatened to vandalise theatres if they screened the film. Earlier, the distributors association said it was against the ban.