Government today barred the release of controversial Punjabi film Kaum De Heere on former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination tomorrow citing apprehensions of law and order problems in parts of the country.
The decision was taken collectively by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, Home Ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) after watching the movie.
"We saw the film and decided that it will not be released tomorrow," CBFC Chairperson Leela Samson announced here after review of the movie on the basis of recommendation by the Home Ministry.
"Because of the law and order situation that might result from the showing of the film and based on the ministry of Home Affairs report, the Home Ministry, the CBFC and I&B officials have decided that," she added.
The Home Ministry had expressed reservation and serious concern over the contents of the film and asked the I&B Ministry to take a relook at the clearance given to it.
In a communication to I&B ministry, the Home Ministry said the film may affect the communal harmony in Punjab and other northern states.
Home Ministry told I&B ministry that some of the content in the film was "highly objectionable" and may create enmity between communities and lead to communal tension.
Sources said the film, which is reportedly based on the lives of the assassins of the late prime minister -- Beant Singh, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh -- glorifies their act.
There have been media reports that Censor Board CEO Rakesh Kumar, who was arrested recently by CBI on corruption charges, gave clearance to the film after allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 1 lakh.
The Punjab units of Congress and BJP have demanded a ban on the controversial film.
To justify the decision, Samson cited Rule 32 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules 1983 which pertains to re-examination of certified films.
The Rule states that "the Central Government may, if it considers necessary so to do, direct the Chairman to re-examine any film (in respect of which a complaint has been received by it directly or through the Board) in such manner and with such assistance as may be specified in the direction".
The Chairman shall forward his/her opinion together with the print of the film in relation to which a certificate was issued earlier to the Central Government who may after such enquiry as it deems fit, pass such orders thereon in exercise of the revisional powers under section 6, the Rule says.
The film's producer, Pardeep Bansal, has said the film is based on true incidents, as per the findings of the Justice Thakkar Commission which had probed the assassination of Gandhi.
"It is a completely balanced film wherein no religion or sect has been belittled. Some people are unnecessarily trying to create a controversy without watching the movie," he has said.
The Censor Board passed the film with an 'A' certificate and it is scheduled to be released tomorrow in more than 100 cinema halls in north India.
Gandhi was shot dead by her two Sikh bodyguards at her official residence in New Delhi on October 31, 1984.
The title, "Quam de Heeray" (Jewels of the nation) itself is offensive as it extols assassins as jewels. The CBFC should have asked the producer to change it.
Other than that, I am against bans. There are so many films that are an insult to one's intelligence which one does not bother to watch. Then there are films which glorify vigilante justice, superstition and medieval values. Such films are more dangerous than a film on an assassination. There have been several such films on Lincoln, JFK and others, including one called "Nine Hours to Rama" on Gandhiji" which, unfortunately, is banned in India. We must let the people decide instead of allowing the government to decide on our behalf.
Mrs. Gandhi was assassinated nearly three decades ago and a majority of Indians were either not born then or care much about it. It is highly unlikely to lead to violent protests unless they are orchestrated by political parties.
The state has been given the requisite powers by the people to uphold law and order. Is the government tacitly admitting that it is powerless to prevent a handful of lumpen elements from rioting?
Why are the self-declared votaries of freedom of expression silent on this ban?
The antimale STEREOTYPE remains, that when a feminit is killed, the fault should always be with the killers, especially so if they are male.
Very good decision. Freedom of expression has its limits. We should definitely not tolerate glorifing people who killed a former PM.