Filmmaker Hansal Mehta’s upcoming Rajkummar Rao-starrer Omerta, about the life of British terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, has been received well at various international fests and also by the audience that watched it at recently concluded Mumbai Film Festival. However, the director says he is mentally prepared to face a struggle in the form of Censor Board before the film finally arrives in theaters.
Omerta recounts the story of Sheikh (played by Rao), who kidnapped and murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. In October 1994, Sheikh was arrested and served time in prison for the kidnappings of Western tourists in India. Five years later, he was released from jail after hijackers took an Indian Airlines jet to Kandahar airport, in southern Afghanistan.
Omerta recently travelled to Busan International Film Festival before being screened in Special Presentations section at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. Omerta was the closing film at Jio MAMI 19th Mumbai Film Festival on Wednesday.
When asked if he is expecting reservations from the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC), currently led by Prasoon Joshi, towards Omerta, Hansal Mehta said, “Let’s see. We will cross the bridge when we come to it. There will be a problem. But I hope they (censor board) understands the film’s context. We haven’t done anything to sensationalise.”
In the times, when it is easy for people to take offence at cinematic expressions, more so if they address the country’ socio-political history, Omerta is definitely expected to run into troubled waters. A scene, featuring the National Anthem, is particularly being said to be contentious in nature. Hansal, however, sees no nothing worth worrying over vis-a-vis the particular scene.
“If I had thought that it would be contentious, I would not have put it in the film. You can’t trust the censor board. You can’t make a film thinking about censor board,” he said.
Hansal Mehta plans to release Omerta early next year.