The producer and distributor of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s historical drama ‘Padmavati’ have “voluntarily” deferred the release date following massive protests across India. While a fringe group blocked the gates of famous Chittorgarh fort, gunshots were reportedly heard at the protest sites too. However, this isn’t the first time that a movie has been amidst controversies even before its release. Bajirao Mastani, Jodhaa Akbar, Goliyon ki Raasleela: Ram-Leela, Udta Punjab and PK and several other regional films have faced a similar fate.
The otherwise peaceful Odia film industry too has been mired in controversy over alleged distortion of facts, at least twice in the past.
Matira Manisha: This Odia film based on the novel by Kalindi Charana Panigrahi of the same name. The director, Mrinal Sen, was accused of introducing fascism in the story, which otherwise toed the Gandhian line. Actor-turned-politician Prashanta Nanda, who played the wayward ‘Chakadi’ in the film, said, “Kalindi Charana Panigrahi’s works were read widely by people. They were shocked to see director’s attempt to tweak the original story and quick to disapprove of the idea. Th e director’s communist leaning was evident in the presentation of the film and dialogues.”
The National Award winning movie released in 1966 faced backlash and had to be pulled down. When the producer suggested a change in the climax, the director refused to reshoot it. “The producer, Babulal Doshi, reshot the last scene and re-released the film without Mrinal Sen’s name in the credit. However, the damage had already been done by then and the producer failed to recover his money,” he said.
Bhukha: This movie in Koshali dialect released in 1989 faced strong protests in Bargarh. Supporters of the director, Sabyasachi Mohapatra, clashed with Bajanias, people from the traditional drummer community, around whom the film revolved. Many among them were later hospitalized. The community objected to the movie, which allegedly showed them in poor light. “The drummers were shown tying rice in a cloth while walking back home after offering their service at a wedding. Though it is a common practice among the community people, they initially felt that the movie shamed them,” said Mohapatra.
Following the clash, the Sambalpur collector convened the peace committee meeting which was attended by Mohapatra. “I organised a free show for them at Bargarh. They came out of the theatre happy, which brought an end to the controversy which actually never existed,” he said.
Mohapatra said it was the handiwork of some mischief-mongers, who had spread rumours about the movie. “They also objected to a rape scene in the movie on flimsy grounds but finally gave in,” he added.
Odisha had also witnessed outrage over a dialogue in Hindi movie Kaminey. The controversy stemmed from use of the phrase, ‘Apna Haath Jagannath’, written in a poster showing a scantily dressed woman of public toilet in a scene of the movie. The director was accused of showing Jagannath in poor light. Based on a complaint filed by a religious outfit, police had registered a case against the producer of the film, UTV, under Section 295A (hurting religious sentiments) of the Indian Penal Code. The Jagannath Temple had also decided to write to the producer of the film to remove the objectionable scene. Following the controversy, security was stepped up at theatres across the state where the movie was being screened.