The Sanjay Dutt-Bipasha Basu film by National Award winning director Rahul Dholakia, Lamhaa, that is to open worldwide on July 16 has been banned in the Middle East.
The news was communicated to the film’s producer, Bunty Walia, after prints subtitled in Arabic had been dispatched. The film will not be allowed to screen in Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman because the UAE National Media Council Censorship Board believes it is a highly objectionable and controversial subject.
The idea for the film came from a remark by a Kashmiri student at a screening of Parzania, describing Kashmir as a “beautiful prison”.
It reportedly touches on the nexus between politicians, the intelligentsia, the military and the militants that leads to the killings of innocent idealists.
Dholakia has described this decision as “outrageous” and believes the censor board in UAE needs to watch the film in “totality” before taking such stringent action.
“The Indian censor board has passed the film which proves that we have not crossed any lines,” he argues.The film had run into problems with the Indian censors too who rejected the first promo. It was passed by the revising committee after sabse (most) from the line "Duniya ki sabse khatarnak jagah Kashmir" (The world’s most dangerous place Kashmir) was deleted. The word farzi (bogus) had to be edited while referring to the elections.
The film was later passed with an A certificate, a decision that has aggrieved Basu who believes this is a film children need to see. The actress in response to the recent decision has tweeted: “Ban on an honest film?? What happened to the freedom of expression??”
Walia has reacted with disappointment. “First the special premiere in Srinagar was cancelled because the authorities feared backlash from the locals. Since there are no theatres in the state now, my film that is about Kashmir and its people and was the filmed there, will not play there. And now, this ban in the Middle East that is the third biggest overseas market for Hindi films. We stand to lose between Rs 3-5 crore.”