After weeks of promotions on Sony Entertainment Television, the telecast of The Dirty Picture (TDP), which was scheduled for Sunday from 12-4pm and a repeat from 8-11pm, was cancelled abruptly in an overnight decision. This came after the Ministry for Information & Broadcasting notified the channel just a day before the telecast. Ironically, the film, which won three National Awards in the categories of Best Actress, Best Costume and Best Make-up, will be felicitated at a gala award ceremony in New Delhi on May 3.
Shocked with the sudden turn of events, director Milan Luthria retorts, “I don’t what’s happening in this country! How can they do that? To make the film fit for TV viewing, we re-edited it with 59 cuts and even obtained a U/A certificate from the censor board.”
Industry sources claim that the reason for the eleventh-hour decision was the fact that the I&B ministry received numerous complaints against airing of TDP during the daytime. Interestingly, on Friday, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by two petitioners, had decided against staying the telecast of the film as it had already undergone requisite editing for its TV premiere.
Apparently, Luthria spent over two months repackaging the film for TV. “Despite several cuts, we made sure to maintain the essence of the film that made it popular in theatres,” he says. “I don’t know if I should be motivated or dejected to make films like TDP!
Where the hell is democracy? We have reality shows on air, which have all kinds of content that is unfit for viewing by children. You think kids don’t watch news channels or read newspapers that are full of stories on murder and kidnapping? This kind of moral policing is absurd.” Luthria claims Balaji will take the matter up with the I&B ministry and find out the exact reason for stopping the telecast.
Tanuj Garg, CEO Balaji Telefilms adds, “It is unfortunate that even after a valid U/A certificate from the CBFC and all the cuts in place, the telecast was stopped. We are distressed given that this is among the most celebrated and loved films of last year. I am not sure how Vidya (actor, Balan), Niharika (stylist, Khan) and Vikram (make-up artiste, Gaikwad) will feel about collecting their National Awards next week!”
A distressed Ekta Kapoor, when contacted, replied via text message, “Too upset, can’t talk,” while the channel’s spokesperson remained unavailable for comment. Reportedly, the hasty decision cost the channel a huge loss of business after buying the rights for Rs 8 crore.