The controversial Marathi film Mumbai Amchich, which targets non-Maharashtrians, has been held up by the Censor Board because certain portions are inflammatory, says its chief Sharmila Tagore.
The film by director Sarad Bandsode tells Marathis that outsiders, particularly from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, have no place in the city of Mumbai. And if they still choose to stay on, they do so at their own peril.
"Let's get this straight. Mumbai Amchich came to us for certification. It was refused clearance by the examining committee. Then it went to the revision committee. There was a difference of opinion," Censor Board chief Sharmila Tagore told IANS, in an interview.
"According to rules, there has to be another viewing of the film under these circumstances. Under no way were we going to certify the film without deleting the objectionable parts," added Sharmila.
Commenting on the content of the film, Sharmila said: "We couldn't allow certain portions because they went against our guidelines. India is a democracy with a large number of states, cultures and people. We can't allow anyone's sentiments to be hurt.
"Also, there is a lot of violence against a certain group of people in the film. Worse still, the violence is justified by a police officer (played by the director). How can we allow a film to say it's okay to kill? It's totally against censor guidelines. However, I was a little preoccupied and the producer, understandably, was in a hurry. We suggested to him go to the courts to quicken the process."
The director decided to take the film to court for release orders. And he has apparently been told to refer the film back to the censor board.
However, a TV channel reported that the court has passed the film.
"No," Sharmila clarified. "As a matter of fact they've referred the film back to us to see the film within four weeks. That date expires May 15. We'll be seeing it around May 14. He can go to the higher courts thereafter. We've given our reasons in writing for rejecting the film."
Sharmila says that there's nothing personal here. "Our guidelines clearly state we cannot encourage sectarian ideas."
She admits she's not enamoured of the guiding principles behind Mumbai Amchich.
"As a citizen of India and the chairperson of the Censor Board, I am against any film that legitimises hatred. There're lots of non-Maharashtrians in Mumbai and they are paying taxes like everyone else. This kind of idea is harmful to the entire social structure."
She refuses to comment on the film's political intentions.
"I wouldn't comment on that because it'd reflect on my personal ideology. Of course, I've my political viewpoint. But that shouldn't interfere with my duties in the censor board. Even when I view my own and my children's films, I follow censor guidelines."