After UP, Punjab has banned Prakash Jha's film Aarakshan (reservation) ahead of its release on Friday over certain controversial scenes and dialogues, which the director said he is ready to delete.
Mayawati government banned the Amitabh Bachchan-Saif Ali Khan starrer in Uttar Pradesh for two months citing law and order problem. Punjab followed suit on the ground that some scenes and dialogues in the film may trigger trouble.
Jha, who held a press conference in Mumbai, said he was ready to make minor changes in the film, respecting concerns voiced by different political bodies.
"We have agreed to make minor changes following objections. There are certain dialogues and scenes that have been edited. Reservation is not a necessity but a Constitutional truth and we have been very careful about depicting it in the film," Jha said.
The director said he has been given an assurance by political leaders that the movie's release will face no hurdle in Maharashtra.
When asked about the ban in UP and Punjab, Jha said he is trying to resolve the matter amicably.
"It (the ban) could be because of political reasons. We are discussing the matter with people there. With a sensitive issue like this there is always doubt but we are trying to discuss and resolve it. What else can I do," he said.
The director said his film is not only about reservation but also deals with the commercialisation of education.
The security for film's lead cast-- Amitabh Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan --has been beefed up by the Mumbai police. Bachchan, who plays a upright college principal in the movie, said he felt embarrassed to move around with gunmen.
"I received notices from Mumbai police warning me not to move out of the house because on so and so date and at so and so time there is a political party that will hold protests in front of my house. And it may not be safe. I carry with me security people.
"I feel embarrassed to be moving around with gunmen behind me but such is the circumstances, which is embarrassing for me as a citizen of free democratic nation," Bachchan said.
Saif, who plays a Dalit teacher in the movie, too has security outside his home.
The film, which also stars Deepika Padukone, Manoj Bajpai and Prateik, has been in the eye of storm ever since its first promos were released.
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes too voiced objection to certain dialogues in the movie. Following a special screening, the commission asked the Censor Board to make necessary changes.
"The main theme of the movie is about commercialisation of education followed by several objectionable dialogues against people from backward communities. We have asked the Censor Board to make necessary changes in it," NCSC Chairman P L Punia said.
A nine-member team of the Censor Board had given a U/A certificate to the film without any cuts but that did not stop it from landing into trouble.
Taran Adarsh, film critic, answers the Aarakshan FAQ
Where's the film releasing?
Everywhere except UP and Punjab. And in Punjab, a special committee will decide today evening whether the film will release in the state or not.
Is the film releasing in Pune, Mumbai?
Yes, the theatre owners have got permission to screen the film
Why the UP ban?
Mayawati government thinks there would be a law and order problem if they release the film in the state.
What's your take on the entire controversy?
It's politically motivated and brainless with no application of mind. When Censor Board has cleared it, why should anybody have problem with this.