So I managed to watch Vishwaroopam. For those who are unaware of the “controversy”, there is really none. But basically? A bunch of Islamic and Muslim organisations demanded that the movie be banned or heavily censored because of it’s alleged portrayal of Islam. Since the material involved a Jihadi plot out of Afghanistan, it kind of discussed islamic terrorism and the jihadi lifestyle.
There are however idiots. The kind of idiots who ban freedom of speech, the kind of people who threaten Taslima Nasrin and Rushdie. Shame on India for actually censoring it.
I kind of agree with Taslima. The idiots who wanted to ban this boiled down to “Stop Portraying the Taliban and Jihadis as Militant Fundies Who Believe in Islam. People will think Islamic fundamentalists are all wankers.”
Stuff that was censored? Killings of american hostages, prayers recited, prayers recited during executions, whippings. You know… these are things that have happened in real life. It’s funny that a guy getting blown in half and his head and torso landing in a bloody heap is shown in bloody and loving detail but not events that have actually happened. I wrote about a woman executed due to a faulty legal system created by fundie Islam. Hanging people from Cranes was done in Iran. Beating (even killing) people who danced and sang has occurred in real life. There have been child soldiers thrown to the teeth of the American Warmachine ™ with nothing more than a Soviet Era AK 47, inferior ammunition and promises of paradise. Fundamentalist Islam is the absolute fucking nadir of humanity. It is anathema to humanity and pointing out the vicious nature of such a faith is not wrong. Particularly when pointing out that there are muslims who think as we do. That the fundies are the nadir of humanity and that they are poison to Islam.
And it shows. The people who censored this rather silly movie. There is a random Samurai Sword Fight and a ludicrous wire fight scene… This is Die Hardesque (Maybe Die Hardersque) not Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy…
It’s actually amusing. The idiots who whined about it have done more to harm to Islam than the atheist who made the movie because they indulged in the very behaviour that the Director (and Hero) were trying to portray as bad. The “Fundie” Side of Islam. Because no matter the attempt to portray the Jihadi in a sympathetic light, it fails miserably because of the idiots trying to censor the message.
Bad Points? When Will Indian Cinema learn that you do not need a love interest to make the movie work. Particularly a “floppy useless one”. His wife felt like she was cellotaped into the plot. Stop It. It’s stupid, it actually makes the movie feel stupid. It’s a stupid trope in western cinema, it’s an even stupider trope when done in a medium that doesn’t portray women well.
Want to know something funny? Katherine Bigelow’s Hurt Locker was released here without ANY cuts and that’s portrayal of Islam was far worse.
The weirdest thing is? The cuts they made to the Tamil (native) version actually made the movie “better” particularly if you know why they made them.
There was a scene where they hanged an innocent man (the Hero’s spy gear got this man in trouble). The original had them recite the Koran (it’s clear what he is reciting since the reciter is a freaking priest!) while the man about to be hung incorrectly begged for his life. Now the imam in the scene speaks the verses silently while the prisoner begs audibly. It’s a surprisingly artistic scene despite the relatively non-subtle tone of the movie. But I realised it was actually the censorship in action…
Knowing that did more damage to Islam and did more to cement the image of Islam as the knee jerk religion of fundamentalists than the actual movie itself. It turned a scene about what he has had to do in the name of being a spy (a surprisingly subtle thing in an indian mainstream movie) and gave it more power and made it about the cultural insanity that is Fundie Islam. Knowing why the Imam has no voice does more damage to the image of Islam than any other part of the movie.
Because to the fundamentalist Muslim the words of a terrified man about to die in a brutal manner is not as insulting to them as the portrayal of themselves.
Go Watch It. It’s not thought provoking, it’s just a Tamil blockbuster. What’s thought provoking are the changes to it.