A day ahead of the release of “Aarakshan”, filmmaker Prakash Jha Thursday agreed to “appropriate” alterations in the multi-starrer dealing with the sensitive issue of reservations after facing protests from the Republican Party of India (RPI) as well as a ban in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
“Reservation is a sensitive issue but we have kept that in mind. Political reasons could be behind the ban on the film. I will make appropriate cuts in the film as per suggestions,” Jha told reporters here.
“Aarakshan”, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, deals with the issue of caste-based reservations in the Indian education system, and several political parties and groups have expressed concern over its content in anticipation of anti-Dalit comments.
“Prakash Jha has accepted few cuts in the film,” said Dalit leader and RPI chief Ramdas Athawale.
The filmmaker is also in talks with the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh governments to revoke the ban.
“The ban has not yet been lifted. We are still trying. We are doing whatever we can, and the RPI is supporting our movie now. It will release without any problems in Maharashtra,” Jha told IANS.
Jha’s film received a clean chit from the censor board and was given a U/A certificate without any cuts after it was screened for a nine-member committee. However, problems continued to plague the release of the film, which is scheduled to hit screens Friday.
Earlier this week, Jha’s office and home were attacked by RPI activists, who staged protests and burned posters of the film. Though the filmmaker reached a settlement with RPI Thursday, security has been stepped up at several multiplexes in Mumbai.
Nishar Tamboli, deputy commissioner, Mumbai Police, told IANS: “We have deployed a good manforce in almost all theatres in Mumbai to curb any kind of disturbance caused by anyone. As far as providing extra security is concerned, that depends on the situation after the movie is released.”
Security has also been provided to Bachchan, Saif and Deepika as well as to Manoj Bajpayee and Prateik Babbar, who also star in the film.
“We have provided security to the entire star cast of the film because there were threats to their life,” said Pratap Dighavkar, deputy commissioner, Mumbai police, Zone 9.
In Punjab, the state government decided to ban it pending a preview, fearing that it may inflame passions in certain sections of society.
A state government spokesperson said in Chandigarh: “The Punjab government has imposed the ban on screening of movie ‘Aakarshan’ in the state of Punjab till the screening committee constituted by the state previews the movie and submits its report.”
“The Punjab government took this decision after receiving intelligence reports that the movie has certain scenes and dialogues that may inflame the passion of some communities in Punjab,” he stated.
The committee will watch the movie at a multiplex in Zirakpur near here Friday and submit its report to the state government for further action, the spokesperson added.
The film was also banned in Uttar Pradesh late Wednesday as the Mayawati government feared it could create law and order problems.
The decision evoked a mixed response.
“Considering the fact that the movie was cleared by the Censor Board, which is governed by the central government, the state government’s decision seems quite surprising. I would say it appears illogical,” Rohit Prakash, a research scholar in Chemistry at Lucknow University, told IANS.
Noted activist and retired Indian Police Service (IPS) officer S.R. Darapuri told IANS: “I just fail to understand why the government has banned the release of the movie… I am in support of reservation… it has been a part of the system for decades now.”
However, Dalit leader Udit Raj supported the ban.
“I totally agree that the ban is in public interest, taking into account certain objectionable dialogues and scenes that are against Dalits,” Raj told IANS.