Lucknow: The term “intolerance” was first coined in India when on 6 October 2015, author Nayantara Sahgal returned her Sahitya Akademi award in protest against the growing intolerance in the country. Following this, Ashok Vajpeyi and Rahman Abbas also returned their respective awards. Back then, the Congress party jumped at the opportunity to browbeat Narendra Modi government on the issue of growing intolerance. But this time around, Madhuri Bhandarkar, a national award winning filmmaker had to request the Congress Vice President, Rahul Gandhi to take strict action against his local party workers who are threatening him for his forthcoming movie ‘Indu Sarkar’.
Congress party leader Sanjay Nirupam said that the film based on the Emergency, titled “Indu Sarkar” must be screened for the Congress ahead of its release this month. He also said that the Congress would like to “ensure that our leaders are not shown in a bad light”. The Mumbai Regional Congress Committee president, Mr. Nirupam has sent his petition to the head of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Mr. Pahlaj Nahalani on Tuesday. ‘Indu Sarkar’ is yet to be reviewed and certified and is scheduled for release on July 28. “Indu Sarkar”,directed by Madhur Bhandarkar, stars Supriya Vinod as Indira Gandhi, former Indian PM. The film potrays the declaration of the Emergency by Mrs Indira Gandhi. That is when civil rights were suspended, the freedom of the press was curtailed, and hundreds of opposition leaders were jailed.
CBFC has suggested 12 deletion and 2 disclaimers which include deletion of words words like RSS and Akali from ‘Indu Sarkar’. Madhur Bhandarkar is also fighting his battles and making his mind to take it to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), which rescued “Lipstick Under My Burkha” recently. Bhandarkar had to terminate promotional events for the movie in Pune as well as Nagpur due to the protests staged outside his hotel. The filmmaker has been provided with police protection keeping in mind the threats he was issued.
Censorship of art has always been a part of Indian history. In January, director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was attacked, slapped and was forced to wrap up the shoot, when thirty men barged into the sets of Padmavati in Jaipur dragged by his hair. Five people were arrested but were set off later. In 2016, October, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by Raj Thackeray threatened to bash Karan Johar and Mahesh Bhatt to stop them from working with Pakistani artists. Recently, the comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB) was threatened for posting a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with a snapchat dog filter. An FIR has been filed against them in a defamation case with the Mumbai Police. AIB chose to delete the tweet later.
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Even though Bhandarkar has been repeatedly saying that about 70% of his film is fiction-had no effect on the Congress protestors. Thus, it wouldn’t be untrue to say that the Indian Constitution may be guaranteeing free speech, yet it is the politicians who decide reasonable restrictions.