A day before its scheduled release across the country, Punjabi film Kaum De Heere — based on lives of former PM Indira Gandhi’s assassins — has run into trouble as the Centre has decided to withdraw its censor certification, thus barring its August 22 release.
The decision, taken under Rule 32 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules 1983, came amidst apprehensions expressed by the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Intelligence Bureau that the film’s release could spark a “law and order situation” in many parts of the country.
Rule 32 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules 1983 pertains to re-examination of certified films and 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”.
“We saw the film and decided that it will not be released tomorrow,” Central Board of Film Certification’s Chairperson Leela Samson said on Thursday. “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 ministry, the CBFC and I&B officials took the decision,” she added.
Samson clarified that the refusal to allow the screening could not be called a ban and that the producers still had legal remedy available in the shape of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). The film had been cleared by the CBFC with an A Certification after making necessary cuts.
Meanwhile, government sources said that the film’s content was highly sensitive in nature and could have led to a major law and order issues.
“The film clearly glorifies Indira Gandhi’s assassins. How can glorification of enemies of the state be permitted on celluloid?” a senior government official asked. The sources added that after watching the film at a special screening, they “could not see any reason why the film was cleared by the Censor Board in the first place”.
Earlier, based on an IB report, the Union Home Ministry had decided that the movie could hurt the sentiments of people. Home Minister Rajnath Singh was apprised of the matter and a special screening was held for IB and Home Ministry officials. “We watched the movie and found it was glorifying assassins of a former Prime Minister of the country. We had reports that it could lead to tension in some areas and also hurt sentiments. Since our hands were tied due to a 2002 Supreme Court case, we had asked the I&B ministry to take appropriate action. We recommended that the movie should not be screened,” said a home ministry official. An advisory was also issued to all states that the film’s screening could lead to law and order problem.
The film’s producer Satish Katyal said the move to halt its release was a result of “political drama and political pressure.”
He added that the directive also questioned the importance of the CBFC certificate which they received on May 29. “The CBFC watched the film four times and on last Sunday too. All four times it cleared the film, then why this sudden turnaround? What really happened that made them stop the film from playing in cinemas tomorrow?” says Katyal, adding how they incurred major losses.
“All these months, we’ve been promoting the film, marketing, getting distributors on board, finalising cinemas and slots and dates, and it will all go waste tomorrow,” he rued.