Films with references to PM Modi stalled, CBFC says they are merely doing their job | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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Films with references to PM Modi stalled, CBFC says they are merely doing their job

Filmmakers of Modi Ka Gaon and Rambhajjan Zindabad are fuming as the Censor Board has put the former on hold and rejected the latter on grounds that makers say they don’t understand.

bollywood Updated: Feb 21, 2017 11:27 IST
Director Tushar Amrish Goel with Vikas Mahante, Modi’s lookalike, in a still from the film Modi Ka Gaon.
Director Tushar Amrish Goel with Vikas Mahante, Modi’s lookalike, in a still from the film Modi Ka Gaon.(Tushar Amrish Goel Facebook)

It’s not the first time that Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has stalled the release of a film but this time, two projects have been held up because of their references to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A semi-fictional feature film Modi Ka Gaon, based on PM Modi’s rural development schemes which was due for release on February 24 has been put on hold and the makers have been asked to obtain an NOC (No Objection Certificate) from PMO as well as the Election Commission. This is apparently the first instance of its kind in India where a film has been asked to get a pre-screening approval from the PMO.

Vikas Mahante in a still from Modi Ka Gaon. (Vikas Mahante Facebook)

Suresh Jha, producer of the film says that it being a small budget film, they have already borne enough losses. “We submitted the application in the PMO on February 8 and are waiting for their reply, but it’s nearly impossible to get an NOC from the Election Commission. Plus they have also asked us to cut the word ‘Pappu’ from a character’s name which was Pappu Bihari in the film. I feel the objections raised by Censor Board are not legal requirements, so we might go to the Revising Committee also, and then maybe the High Court,” says Jha adding that “Nihalani (censor board chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani) has not even seen the film, so I don’t know why he has put these conditions.”

“Anybody who uses a celebrity or a public figure’s name in a film are required to produce an NOC. Modi Ka Gaon has been cleared without any major cuts and they only need PMO’s approval because they have an actor playing the Prime Minister.”

Clarifying his stance, Pahlaj Nihalani says, “Anybody who uses a celebrity or a public figure’s name in a film are required to produce an NOC. Modi Ka Gaon has been cleared without any major cuts and they only need PMO’s approval because they have an actor playing the Prime Minister. And if they’re saying objections are unlawful, tell them to prove it.”

Modi Ga Gaon features Vikas Mahante, who bears a striking resemblance to Prime Minister Modi. Tushar Amrish Goel, the film’s director feels that this could be the real reason behind censor board’s objection. “The film is not a biopic by any means. Mahante’s role as the PM is hardly of few minutes and we have tried to show how straightforward he is without mentioning any other political party. Maybe, the Censor Board is worried about the on-going state elections, as they feel the film focuses on Modi’s work in UP or the BJP’s as a party, but that’s not the case,” he says.

A still from Rambhajjan Zindabad starring Om Puri.

Another film, Rambhajjan Zindabad, a political satire, has been denied certification by the Censor Board. Director Ranjeet Gupta, too, complained about his freedom of expression being denied by the CBFC.

Explaining why Rambhajjjan Zindabad was rejected, Nihalani retorts, “The film is extremely vulgar. The language used for women is inexcusably coarse. It also trivialises rape by showing women being given ‘compensation’ for their ordeal. We cannot allow this film to be certified.”

Furious that some filmmakers try and use Censor Board to generate publicity for their films, Nihalani adds, “They want marketing for their movie, I am not party for it. If we have refused a film, there would be adequate reasons. We have done our job and they have a chance to go to the tribunal and then the court also, instead of trying to get mileage by criticising the censor board.”

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