After hype, it’s no show for Waseem Rizvi’s ‘Ram ki Janmabhoomi’ in Lucknow
Multiplexes and cinema hall owners in Lucknow have refused to screen the controversial movie ‘Ram ki Janmabhoomi’, written and produced by UP Shia Central Waqf Board chairman Waseem Rizvi.
The movie chronicling the history of events related to Ram Janmaboomi and Babri Masjid issue in Ayodhya was set for release in a multiplex and cinema hall in Lucknow on April 1, but their owners cancelled the shows at the last moment.
“I had deposited money with the SRS multiplex in Gomti Nagar for the screening of the movie on Monday. Several viewers had made online bookings for the show and I was also going but at the last moment I got a call from the owner saying they had cancelled the show,” said Waseem Rizvi.
Sudarshan cinema hall in Old Lucknow, which was also set to screen the movie, followed suit.
“The movie was taken down after owners of commercial establishments inside the mall met the management and voiced their apprehension. There have been protests against the movie. What if those opposed to it indulged in violence and arson, we would have been at the receiving end,” said Rehan, who works in one of the shops inside SRS Mall. Ashish Aggarwal, general secretary of the UP Cinema Hall Owners’ Association, said he was not aware as to why multiplexes were not willing to screen the movie.
“After all, who would take a risk for a non-star cast movie?” said Rajesh Tandon of the Novelty cinema hall adding this was one of the reasons why he did not go for it. Known for his pro-temple stance, Rizvi, however, said that his movie was running in cinema halls in Varanasi and Mathura. The Supreme Court recently rejected a petition seeking a ban on the release of the movie due to the sensitive nature of its content.
But a fresh petition for restraint on the movie’s release has again been filed by one Hussain Akhtar of Faizabad before the Allahabad HC, which fixed April 15 for hearing the matter. Several Muslim outfits and NGOs have questioned the timing of the movie, which they allege contains provocative content. “It is an attempt to incite communal passions ahead of LS polls,” they said. “The movie is highly objectionable. It vilifies Muslims, especially clerics, and is a product of a depraved and sick mind whose aim is to spread hatred in the society,” said Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahli, Imam Eidgah Lucknow.
“Islam does not subscribe to the practice of ‘halala’ and divorce as shown in the movie. It is totally against ‘shariah’ (Islamic practice and laws),” said Maulana Rashid, also a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad also demanded a ban saying that the release has been timed to incite communal passions and its provocative content could vitiate the atmosphere of the country. He alleged that Rizvi had taken a pro-temple stand only to save his skin as there were corruption charges against him.
“Rizvi is a career politician, a one-time acolyte of Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan. But, he knows when to switch political loyalty. He has no experience of film-making. From the trailer, it becomes clear that the movie has been made to promote a particular ideology, create schisms in the society," said Athar Hussain, who runs Centre for Objective Research and Development (CORD), an NGO.
ABOUT THE MOVIE
The movie starts with the firing on the ‘kar sevaks’ in Ayodhya in 1990, shows the practice of instant triple ‘talaq’ (divorce) and Halala (temporary marriage) and portrays Muslim clerics opposing the construction of Ram temple as Pakistani agents.
The film represents the timeline of Ayodhya and starts with the firing on “kar sevaks” on November 2, 1990. Apart from chronicling the history of the age-old dispute, the role of politicians and radical clerics in fanning the divide between the Hindus and the Muslims, the two-and-a-half-hour-long movie also highlights another controversial practice, Halala (temporary marriage), among the Muslims.