Sanjay Gupta’s English film, The Great Indian Butterfly, that is lining up for releasing on April 2, has run into censor problems over certain expletives and also the S-word. In one of the scenes, Sandhya Mridul tells her husband Aamir Bashir that her mother had called and she’d told her that they had stopped having sex. The censors want the word “sex” beeped out.
Gupta points out that his film revolves around a young urban couple facing marital problems. And one of the reasons for their incompatibility, is that they no longer have a physical relationship.
“There’s nothing remotely titillating about the line. In fact, none of the words objected to, including ‘sex’, have been used for shock value. It’s a ‘soft’ film with no high notes yet I’m in the can,” points out Gupta.
His anger is understandable given that Dibakar Banerjee’s Love Sex Aur Dhoka that released recently and raised eyebrows for its ‘explosive’ language. And it got away with the word ‘sex’ not just in the title, but liberally strewn through the film, along with other must-not-use words.
“These ambiguous set of rules of the Censor Board is frustrating and tiresome,” grouses Gupta, who was planning to catch LSD yesterday to check out the “hypocrisy” for himself.
He adds, “They clear a commercial Hindi movie that has promos airing on every TV set several times in an hour. And I’m pulled up over a film that is anything but big and flashy. Hey, my film is not even in Hindi. It has done the tour of the festival circuit and picked up rave reviews. One hears that ‘niche’ films get some leeway in dialogue and the issues raised because you are not targetting a mass audience. But The Great Indian Butterfly has been stopped in mid-flight.”
No delay in release
Buzz is that the film was to open on March 26 but had to be pushed back by a week following to censor problems. Gupta refutes. “We never announced March 26 as D-day though we did toy with the idea. Eventually, we decided not want to come in a crowd. This Friday, we had four Hindi movies and two English ones coming together,” he argues.
There are at least three Hindi movies, including the Sadiyaan and Tum Milo Toh Sahi, and his own Bipasha Basu starrer, Pankh, lining up for next Friday too. Will he get good theatres and screen time? Also, with the on-going IPL, will he find an audience for his film?
“I’ve got the theatres,” he assures you. “And the contemporary, educated audience I’m targetting is not going to be glued to their TV sets to watch a T20 match or a ball game. We are anyway going in for a ‘niche’ release, with only night shows. The film was made for peanuts and sold even cheaper. It’s not a commercial gamble.”
He admits that both, The Great Indian Butterfly and Pankh, which have been ready for a long time, are long overdue. “They could have released anytime but the people involved took their time. At the end of the day, I’m just happy that they are finally coming,” he sighs, “These two films are the last of my backlog.”
Now Gupta is free to concentrate on fresh projects. He plans to make an announcement soon. “I will be returning as a director with a star-studded movie,” he enthuses, “We’re working on the final draft. Once the script is locked, I’ll get to the casting.”
‘With Pankh we arrived at a compromise’
Given it’s volatile and controversial content, I could have gone to the press with a 100 news-friendly stories on Pankh.
But I did not want to take away from the merits of the film. So we will be going in for a quiet release. We want to sell our movie, not sell sensationalism.
Writer- director Sudipto Chattopadhyaya has made Pankh from the heart that has been dedicated to all the child stars who were a part of our film industry. I do not want to disrespect his sentiment and vision.
Yes, there were problems for Pankh too but Sudipto fought for his film and at the end of the day, the censors and he arrived at a compromise that was mutually acceptable to both.
In this case, I don’t blame the censors because we had gone out on the limb with Pankh.