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Chennai (UNI): Sony Pictures, which has bought the rights for controversial Hollywood movie The Da Vinci Code in India, today said it was seeking legal opinion following the Tamil Nadu government's decision to ban the film, a day before advance booking was to begin for its release in the state tomorrow. The order of the Tamil Nadu government to ban the film was issued late last night by the Home Secretary, expressing fear that the movie's screening could hurt the sentiments of the minority communities particularly Christians. The state government, which has directed the District Collectors and the Commissioner of Police Chennai to study the situation and take action under Section 13 of the Cinematorgraph Act for suspending the screening of the film, has directed Sony Pictures, who bought the rights for the film in India, to defer the release by two months.
Both Sony Pictures representative Vikramjit and A V Mohan, the film's distributor for Tamil Nadu who bought the rights from Sony, refuted the government's contention that the film could hurt the sentments of the Christian community in the state. Pointing out that Sony was already consulting its legal advisors to get the state government ban revoked, he said, ''the film is already a great box office success in many parts of the world, even in countries like Brazil and Italy where Catholics are the Majority.'' ''Even in Catholic-dominated Goa, the ban on the film has been lifted,'' he said, adding the movie was running successfully in 11 states in India, including Punjab.
In other regions of India, the ban on the film has been thought about and in some authorities have actually enforced a a ban on the film. The Pondicherry administration is likely to ban the screening of controversial film The 'Da vinci code' in the union territory. Highly placed official sources told UNI tonight that the administration had received representations from churches not to permit the screening of the film here. The government is examining the case, the sources added.
The Andhra Pradesh Government decided to suspend the exhibition of the controversial English film 'The Da Vinci Code' and its language versions in the state. The film is scheduled for release tomorrow. In a press release, Special Chief Secretary Paul Bhuyan said th government had carefully examined the representations received by it from various Christian organisations and concluded that the release of the film was likely to cause breach of peace and hurt the religious sentiments of the Christians. The Youth Wing of the National Congress of Indian Christians (NCIC) hailed the decision taken by the state government to ban the controversial English movie ''The Da Vinci Code.'' In a statement here, they thanked Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy and Home Minister K Jana Reddy for taking the ''bold'' decision and respecting the sentiments of the Christian community. The NCIC urged the government to immediately direct the police all over the state to implement the order strictly and see to it that no pirated CD was available in the market.
In Meghalaya, the film has been banned by the State government. Besides, the ban is also effective on private viewing and anyone found violating the law will be punished as per the provisions. A screening committee of the General Administration Department (GAD), assigned to examine the issue finally suggested to the Congress-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government not to allow screening of the controversial movie in this Christian majority state. GAD Minister HDR Lyngdoh today said the ban had been imposed with immediate effect as per the Assam Cinema Regulation Act, 1953, adopted by the Meghalaya government. Video parlours and cable operators have also warned not show the film. Mr Lyngdoh said cinema hall owners agreed to respect sentiments of the Christian community and decided not to screen the movie.
''Taking into consideration the reports of the deputy commissioners and the appeal from various Church leaders we decided to ban its screening,'' he said. Several prominent church leaders in Meghalaya had demanded ban on the film, even as it hit theatres elsewhere in the country following the clearance from the Central government.
''We are against the film as its content is blasphemous,'' said Rev Dominic Jala, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church.