The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), better known as the Censor Board, has stopped the release in India of Punjabi film The Mastermind: Jinda Sukha saying it had received “complaints from various sections of society”. The global release of the film was scheduled for September 11.
The film takes its title from Khalistan militants Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, the assassins of General A S Vaidya who was Army chief at the time of Operation Blue Star in Amritsar in 1984.
Jinda and Sukha, who were also responsible for killing Congress leaders Lalit Maken and Arjan Dass within months of the anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination, were hanged at the Yerawada jail in Pune on October 9, 1992. In 1987, they had participated in a bank robbery in Ludhiana in which Rs 5.7 crore was looted.
The film The Mastermind: Jinda Sukha has been directed by veteran Punjabi filmmaker, actor and producer Sukhjinder Singh Shera. He said the film had received a go-ahead from the censor board on July 24.
“We were excited about the release. But the board got in touch again and said they were revoking the certificate after pressure from the Union Home Ministry and IB. They said the film shows the murder of an Army general, a dacoity of Rs 57 million and other objectionable things which can lead to a law and order situation,” Shera said.
He said he would appeal against the decision and, if need be, move court. Calling it a “political ban” and “harassment of filmmakers”, he said: “This is a commercial film. We even volunteered to remove the objectionable parts.”
CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani said: “Yes, we passed the film. But on receiving complaints from various sections of the society, we decided to review and revoke the certificate.” He rejected Shera’s allegation that the film was stopped under pressure from the Union Home Ministry. “They too must have got some complaints and expressed concern,” Nihalani said, adding that the film is “not appropriate for exhibition”.
Board member and filmmaker Ashoke Pandit criticised Nihalani’s decision. “I have not even watched the film. The CBFC is going through its own internal conflict because Nihalani is running it like his own production house. He sits on every committee, every screening and has the final say.”
“A censor board is for certification, not for bans. Ban is childish, an immature act in a democracy. Censor board can ask for cuts and edits, but not gag the freedom of a filmmaker. But this is what Nihalani is doing… if there is a law and order situation, it’s for the police and state to handle, not the board,” Pandit said.