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'Vishwaroop', 'Midnight's Children' hit box office together

Indo Asian News Service
28 January 2013

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) It's a clash of the titans at the box-office this Friday as "Vishwaroop", the Hindi version of Kamal Haasan's controversial Tamil film "Vishwaroopam", hits the Indian screens along with Deepa Mehta's "Midnight's Children", based on Salamn Rushdie's Booker Prize-winning controversial novel of the same name.

Directed and produced by Kamal, "Vishwaroop" revolves around a married couple Vishwanath alias Wiz (Kamal), a Kathak exponent, and Nirupama (Pooja Kumar), who has acquired her PhD. All seemed to be going well till Nirupama aspires for more and plans to opt out of marriage.

However, it is difficult for her to cite any specific reason to leave Wiz, as there is nothing much to complain about him. So she decides to hire a detective and find something about him, so that she can find a reason to end her marriage. Wires get cross-connected and all hell breaks loose.

Shot in scenic locales of the US, Canada as well as cities like Chennai and Mumbai in India, the film also features Shekhar Kapur, Rahul Bose, Zarina Wahab and Andrea Jeremiah.

The film has been reeling under controversies even before the release. Kamal wanted to open new avenues by releasing his Rs.95 crore (over $ 17,000,000) project on direct-to-home platform a day before the release of the film Jan 11. But theatre owners opposed the idea and eventually, the actor-filmmaker had to revise his plans.

Later Jan 25 was locked as the new release date but before "Vishwaroopam" could hit the screens, it again found itself amid trouble when certain Muslim groups claimed that their community has been shown in bad light and asked that the Tamil and the Telugu versions be banned.

In India, "Vishwaroopam" has been banned in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh while in the overseas market, it has been banned in Malaysia.

Experts reckon the ban can lead to an approximate loss of Rs.30 crore.

Deepa Mehta's "Midnight's Children" is based on controversial author Salman Rushdie's Booker prize-winning 1980 novel of the same name.

At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, as India proclaims independence from Great Britain, two newborn babies are switched by a nurse in a Bombay hospital. Saleem Sinai, the illegitimate son of a poor woman, and Shiva, the offspring of a wealthy couple, are each fated to live the destiny meant for the other.

Their lives become mysteriously intertwined and are inextricably linked to India's whirlwind journey of triumphs and disasters.

The novel came out in 1980 and objections were raised on unflattering portrayal of the then prime minister Indira Gandhi and the internal emergency of 1975 in the book. Indira Gandhi sued the author for defamation in 1984. She won the case shortly and the publishers were forced to slightly alter the text and remove an offending passage.

Shot entirely in Sri Lanka, the film features an ensemble cast of Satya Bhabha, Siddharth, Shahana Goswami, Ronit Roy, Rahul Bose, Shabana Azmi, Kulbushan Kharbanda, and Darsheel Safary.

Salman Rushdie is said to have sold the rights of the novel to Mehta for $1 and after much coaxing, the author agreed to be the screenplay-writer of the film too. The film's production cost reportedly is $12 million.

The shooting of the film was stalled after the Iranian government expressed distress to the Sri Lankan ambassador over the filming of a Rushdie book, but the controversy was resolved and the shooting resumed.

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