Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia, who has experience with both censorship and working with actor Shah Rukh Khan, spoke about the controversy that had preceded the release of superstar’s latest film, Pathaan. Rahul had directed Shah Rukh in the film Raees, and is also known for having helmed the acclaimed drama Parzania.
Pathaan was attacked by certain groups prior to its release, and calls were made to boycott it. Certain religious groups had taken offence to visuals in the song “Besharam Rang,” which they said offended their religious sentiments. Changes were made to the song in the theatrical version, after CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi made the suggestion to YRF. In his statement, he said, “CBFC always has a tough task to strike the right balance between audience sensibilities and creative expressions and we have stayed true to this spirit in the certification on film Pathaan too.”
In an interview with Connect FM Canada, Rahul Dholakia said, “What I really did not like was the whole idea of the film being re-censored. That is my whole thing… An already censored film was re-censored because of a morality view, that was the wrong thing to do by Prasoon Joshi and whoever the CBFC people were. Shouldn’t have done it; it sets the wrong precedent. And now, if you look at the number of people who’ve gone to see it, I want to know which morality group they were referring to. So, this whole idea of ‘public wants it to be censored’ is bulls**t. The public doesn’t want it. You want it. The public has come in large numbers to see it.”
Rahul’s film Parzania was set during the 2002 Gujarat riots, and faced backlash during its release, and was rejected by some cinema owners. The film was not released in Gujarat. In a 2007 interview with Reuters, Rahul had said, “From producing to directing to distributing I had to do everything for Parzania. It is tough to go through all this as well as handle stupid episodes of controversies all by yourself.”
Pathaan was released to a thunderous box office response on January 25. The film has so far grossed more than Rs 700 crore globally, making it the highest-grossing movie of Shah Rukh’s career. Director Siddharth Anand reacted to the controversy recently, and told indianexpress.com, “It (the narrative) was unnecessary. It irritated me. You want to go out, answer them that, ‘Bro, come and see the film. There is nothing offensive in it.’ The fact that you can’t do that is irritating. “