KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 — Malaysia’s Film Censorship Board (LPF) chairman Datuk Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid confirmed today that Malaysians would see a different ending for the Tamil film “Kabali” unlike their fellow fans elsewhere in the world.
Abdul Halim revealed that the LPF was the one who requested for the alteration in the blockbuster starring South Indian actor Rajinikanth, in order to insert a moral lesson that crime does not pay.
“Normally under our guidelines, there must be some kind of element of retribution in the movie. Especially if the characters shown in the movies are involved in crime, then there must be some kind of comeuppance for that.
“So, we asked the producer to put in a caption … This was to send a message that the law cannot be taken into your own hands,” Abdul Halim told in a phone interview.
Set in Malaysia, the film features Rajinikanth, 65, as the titular character, a gangster who was framed for a crime decades ago.
The original ending scene in the movie was intentionally left ambiguous, but the local version leaves nothing to the audience’s imagination.
The decision has left local fans of Rajinikanth fuming, in addition to attention from entertainment press especially from India.
Abdul Halim also admitted that the board has censored several scenes in the Kollywood film, but stressed that all the cuts were only five minutes in total and that the storyline of the movie is still intact.
He explained the cuts were only several seconds long for each scenes, including one controversial scene that included the use of the word “keling” — a term derogatory to ethnic Indians in Malaysia.
The word was muted in local screenings.
“We have our own guidelines and anything that we feel could be sensitive, we censor. We took off the word and it’s better that way because if we do not do that, then the people will allege that we practise selective censorship,” Abdul Halim said.
The scene in the original unedited version has since been slammed in Malay paper Mingguan Malaysia today, in a column by Awang Selamat, the collective pseudonym of its editors.
Awang had accused the film of deliberately flaming racial tensions in the country by portraying the ethnic Indians as an oppressed minority.
Despite that, Abdul Halim said the main reason for the censorship was to make the film a PG-13-rated film, so it can be seen by more Malaysians.
“[There were] only very minor censorship. Every scene was cut by only a few seconds and the part we censored, we only shortened the violent scenes, like the usage of machetes and all the gory part, as this is a PG-13 rated film,” he added.
“It is really a minor cut and didn’t change the story. We only did the censorship after discussing with the movie’s producer and getting his approval,” Abdul Halim added, referring to Tamil film producer Kalaipuli S. Thanu.
PG-13 films contain materials that may be inappropriate for children under 13 years old, and requires parental guidance for viewing.
Directed by Pa. Rajinth, the highly-anticipated film started screening on Friday, and will also be shown dubbed in Malay language in select cinemas.