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<i>Da Vinci Code</i> finally releases

New Delhi (UNI): The eagerly awaited Da Vinci Code, the film that evoked worldwide protests from Catholic groups because of controversial refrences to the life of Jesus Christ, is being released in the country tomorrow with all the Censor Board conditions fulfilled. The film, which has been dubbed in four India Languages, is only for adult viewing. It will be screened without any cuts, but will carry an additional disclaimer. Censor Board regional officer Vinayak Azad today told UNI over phone from Mumbai that the film will carry a disclaimer both at the beginning and at the end saying that all the characters and incidents portrayed and the names in it were fictitious. It will run for 15 seconds each time on every print of the film.

Producers Sony Pictures had earlier resisted carrying the additional disclaimer which has delayed the screening of the film in India. It was released all over the world on May 19. They had argued that the film was already carrying a legal statement at the end that clearly tells the reader that it was based on a work of fiction. Mr Azad today said,''The film has to carry the additional disclaimer at the beginning. And that is the Censor Board condition to which the producers have agreed.'' Views of representatives of the Catholic Church were taken into account before clearing release of the film.The movie is Ron Howard's adaptation of the Dan Brown bestseller, with Tom Hank in the lead role.The film has already been released in 62 countries between May 17 and 19.

Directed by Ron Howard, the production is an adaptation of Dan Brown's novel that has sold more than 30 million copies. The novel turned controversial as it suggests Jesus married his female disciple Mary Magdalene and had a child with her, which conflicts with the Christian faith. The Da Vinci Code, which has generated 231.8 million dollars worldwide in its opening days, the second-biggest film debut in history, is now being eagerly awaited in the country. However, the film may not be screened in the north-eastern state of Nagaland as it has been banned by the state government. Other states in the Christian dominated North East India have not take up the extreme view of the film. Four of the seven states in the region have a Christian majority.

In Mumbai, the Bombay High Court today again refused to stay the release of the controversial English movie The Da Vinci Code in India and denied the relief sought by the petitioner. Vacation Judge A S Bagga allowed the petitioner, Joseph Dias, to seek permission from the State as well as Central Governments to take action against the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and Sony Pictures for the release of the film. Senior Counsel Y R Mishra, arguing on behalf of the CBFC, contended that no action could be taken u/s 295(A) (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code as it requires sanction by the government u/s 196 of Criminal Procedure Code and therefore, stay would not be granted for releasing the film. He also argued that the film had nothing to do with the historical facts of the Christian community and based on that CBFC had agreed to grant the film 'A' Certificate.

Senior Counsel K G Menon, arguing on behalf of Sony Pictures, strongly opposed the petition and held that it was filed with malafied intentions with a view to obstruct the screening of the film. Earlier Advocate Pradeep Hanvur, appearing on behalf of Dias, had suggested to the court to view the film before reaching any conclusion. The same was turned down by the court for lack of time. Earlier, the petitioner, a social activist, had sought a ban on the film stating that the release of the film would hurt the religious sentiments of over 25 millions Catholics across the world.

In Kochi, a Division Bench of the Kerala High Court today declined to stay the permissio granted by the Central Film Certification Board for the controversial film The Da Vinci Code. The Bench comprising Chief Justice V K Bali and Justice P R Raman, however, directed the Union Government to consider and dispose the revision petition filed by the petitioner, Basil Attippetti, Nayarambalam, preferably within three weeks. The petitioner submitted before the Court that the film The Da Vinci Code depicted a distorted picture of Jesus Christ and it offended the religious faith of the Christian community. He stated the permission given by Central Film Certification Board was arbitrary and violative of the guidelines enumerated under the Cinematographic Act.

But in Chandigarh, the Punjab Government today decided to ban the movie Da Vinci Code in the state in order to maintain communal harmony, peace and tranquility. Disclosing this here today, a spokesman of the Department of Home Affairs and Justice said the decision was taken after the Christian community expressed strong resentment against the alleged objectionable contents of this movie. There was a possibility of violent confrontation at some places, particularly those having large christian population he added.The movie was scheduled to be released in the state tomorrow.

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