The biopic on MC Mary Kom is ready for countrywide release on September 5. But the five-time women’s world boxing champion and Olympic bronze medalist won’t be able to watch the film in her native Manipur.
"It’s a phenomenal journey — a lovely story that has not just inspired me as a woman, but [can influence] anyone who wants to be more than what they’re told is their limit. Her journey has been a struggle and is really inspiring — personally, and as an actor," says Priyanka Chopra.
The reason: Hindi films were banned in the state over a decade ago by separatist organisations who felt the movies undermined Manipur’s culture. There is also resentment that Priyanka Chopra was cast to play Manipur’s sporting icon instead of a local actress.
Mary and husband K Onler Kom are sad the film is unlikely to hit theatres in Manipur, but authorities are mum over the unconstitutional ban that has been in place for over 15 years.
“I can’t say anything on the issue but I will feel bad if the movie is not released in my state,” Mary told HT, a feeling echoed by her husband. Hindi film songs and TV channels are also banned in Manipur.
Repeated attempts by HT to contact Manipur chief secretary PC Lawmkunga was not successful as he didn’t take calls.
Chairman of the Manipur Film Forum L Surjakanta Sharma, however, criticised the ban: “Even a Hindi TV serial I made in 2005 was banned, which is not good. The government should do the needful as it deprives people of the opportunity to get acquainted with various cultures of the country.”
The biopic traces Mary’s life from her humble roots to world titles and the podium finish in the London Games, a woman’s single-minded rise to acclaim against all odds. Well-known Bollywood director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, has produced the film and Omung Kumar has directed it.
When Priyanka was cast, there were protests on social networking sites demanding that only a girl from the region should play the role. However, Mary Kom has expressed happiness over Priyanka being chosen to play her.