Mersal GST controversy: Ten times Indian films ran foul of political parties
When it comes to being touchy about movies, all political parties are equal-opportunity offenders.
After a bitter Twitter war between supporters of the Modi government and those rooting for Tamil film Mersal over scenes criticising government policies, the filmmakers and the BJP reached a truce.
In the film Mersal, popular Tamil hero Vijay is seen mocking the new tax regime and Digital India campaign. BJP’s state president in Tamil Nadu TN Soudarrajan demanded that all those scenes which “convey wrong impression” should be removed.
The makers of the Vijay-starrer film met some senior BJP members to explain their point of view and agreed to remove scenes if they cause offence.
India has a long history of films being censored or forced to remove a scene or a dialogue due to political opposition. In most cases, the film makers were forced to keel over and apologise. While many Congress leaders, including party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, tweeted against the Mersal controversy, when it comes to censorship, most political parties are thin-skinned.
Here’s a list of ten movies that faced censorship because of political parties:
Aandhi, 1975 : The political drama starring Suchitra Sen and Sanjeev Kumar was banned by the Indira Gandhi-led Congress government when it released in 1975. The film was about a chance meeting between a well-known politician and her estranged husband, and Sen’s look was inspired by Gandhi. Aandhi was only released in 1977, after Indira Gandhi lost the elections and the Janata Party came to power.
Kissa Kursi Ka, 1977: A political satire on the Emergency, Kissa Kursi Ka, produced by Janata Party MP Amrit Nahata, was banned by the Congress government. It is also said to be the film that brought about Sanjay Gandhi’s downfall. The Shah Commission, set up by the Janata Party government, to look into the excesses of the Emergency, found Sanjay Gandhi and then I&B minister It landed VC Shukla guilty of destroying the film’s prints.
Bombay, 1995: The Shiv Sena is a serial offender when it comes to demanding changes or cuts in movies, One of the examples was Mani Ratnam’s Bombay, which was set in the backdrop of the 1992 Mumbai riots. The film, which was targeted by Muslim and Hindu religious leaders as well, was only released after Ratnam yielded to changes asked by Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray in how he he was portrayed in the film.
Water, 2005: Part of a trilogy by Indian-Canadian film maker Deepa Mehta, Water took a long, hard look at how widows were treated. Just like Mehta’s earlier film, Fire, which portrayed a lesbian relationship, Water ran afoul of right-wing Hindu groups. But the Shiv Sena also stepped in. Arun Pathak, a Shiv Sena worker, threatened to commit suicide if the shoot wasn’t halted. Mehta was forced to leave Varanasi and complete the shoot in Sri Lanka.
Fanaa, 2006: After actor Aamir Khan expressed his support for those displaced by the Sardar Sarovar Dam project in Gujarat, the state government demanded an apology from the actor. Posters of the film were burnt and mobs protested against it. The Multiplex Association and the Cinematography Association of Gujarat refused to screen Fanaa citing law and order problems.
Wake Up Sid, 2009: The Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) objected to Mumbai being referred to as “Bombay” in the Ranbir Kapoor- starrer coming-of-age film Wake Up Sid. After protests in Pune, producer Karan Johar met MNS leader Raj Thackeray and agreed to insert an apology and a disclaimer at the start of the film.
My Name is Khan, 2010 : After actor Shah Rukh Khan voiced his support for the inclusion of Pakistani players in the IPL, the Shiv Sena targeted his film, My Name is Khan. Party members threatened to destroy theatres and destroyed the film’s posters and billboards. The film was released despite the Shiv Sena’s protests. Producer Karan Johar met the Maharashtra government, asking for additional security outside cinemas.
Sadda Haq, 2013: Then Punjab government, led by Akali leader Parkash Singh Badal banned Sadda Haq, a Punjabi movie based on the Khalistan movement and its leader. The Punjab government justified its decision saying the movie glorified the movement and could cause tensions. The ban was later overturned by the Supreme Court.
Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, 2016: The Raj Tahackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) issued an ultimatum to the producers of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil against casting Pakistani actors. The Karan Johar film starred Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. The director had to make a public statement stating he would not work with Pakistani actors in the future, offer to donate Rs 5 crore to the army, and change Lahore in the film to Lucknow.
Indu Sarkar, 2017: Congress supporters disrupted the screening of the Madhur Bhandarkar-directed Indu Sarkar, which was on the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi government in 1975. The Central Board of Film Certification only allowed the film to be released after 12 cuts and two disclaimers.