Protests by the country’s leading wrestlers over what they felt was their “adverse depiction” in a recently released Bollywood movie, Commando 3, resulted in the film being taken down from North Delhi’s Amba theatre Thursday. The “objectionable scene” from the film, starring actor Vidyut Jamwal and released last Friday, shows school girls being eve-teased and sexually harassed by akhada wrestlers.
Dronacharya awardee coach Maha Singh Rao led wrestlers from Guru Hanuman Akhada to a demonstration at the clock tower near the single-screen cinema theater in Shakti Nagar. The protest, which saw Rao along with dozens of wreslters holding placards reading ‘Pehelwaano ka samman karo, Commando 3 ban karo’, culminated with the theatre manager agreeing to halt screenings of the film.
“We are horrified by such depiction of wrestlers. We filed a police complaint and are also going to approach the High Court to get a stay on the movie… I don’t know how the censor board passed this movie with such scenes; we won’t let it run without necessary cuts being made,” Rao told The Indian Express.
“Pehelwaans live a pure life, from our food to our routine. Everyone knows that a wrestler follows a Brahmacharya lifestyle; pehelwaans have upheld Indian ideals and protected mothers and sisters,” said Rao, who “hasn’t stepped foot inside a film theatre in my life” and received the video, which was released as promotional footage, as a WhatsApp forward.
Rao’s Arjuna award-winning protegees Rajiv Tomar and Anuj Choudhary have also called for a ban on the film. Tomar, four-time Commonwealth Games medallist and 2008 Olympian, believes such portrayal could harm the public image of wrestlers.
“It’s taken a lot of time and effort for wrestlers to come into the mainstream… But if these filmmakers ruin our image, then everybody will run away from it,” said Tomar, adding, “I understand creative freedom but shouldn’t it be based on something real?”
Anuj Choudhary, a 2004 Olympian and a DSP in Lucknow, said the protests are far from over and they will raise the issue till the filmmakers apologise.
“Films like Sultan and Dangal made wrestling appealing to youngsters. But this film shows wrestlers at an akhada, bowing to a Hanuman figure before doing such things. What message are they sending?” he added.
World Championship medallists Sushil Kumar and Bajrang Punia also criticised the film. Two-time Olympic medallist Sushil said: “The filmmakers haven’t done research on how wrestlers conduct themselves. I demand the removal of the objectionable scene.”
A senior police officer said no complaint has been received and no case registered in the matter.