Censor wants changes in ‘Pathaan’; Pakistan blockbuster stalled

Censor wants changes in ‘Pathaan’; Pakistan blockbuster stalled

TWO BIG TICKET films set to release in the country, Shah Rukh Khan starrer Pathaan and Pakistan’s The Legend of Maula Jatt, have faced rough weather.

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairman Prasoon Joshi said in a statement on Thursday that the makers of “Pathaan” have been asked to implement the “advised changes … including songs and submit the revised version”.

The move comes days after one of the film’s songs, “Besharam Rang”, featuring Deepika Padukone in a saffron bikini, faced social media backlash for “hurting Hindu sentiments”. The song was released on YouTube by producers Yash Raj Films (YRF), on 12 December.

The Legend of Maula Jatt, starring Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, was slated to release on December 30, according to announcements made by multiplex chains INOX and PVR. “The distributor has conveyed that the release of the film in India has now been postponed indefinitely and we have not been given any new date or reason for the delayed release,” an INOX spokesperson told The Indian Express.

Zee Studios had acquired the distribution rights of the film, which would have a limited release in Delhi and Punjab. Zee Studios did not respond to a request for comment from The Indian Express.

The CBFC did not comment on the Pakistani film. But sources involved in the film’s release said that announcements from theaters are usually “made only after clearance is obtained from the CBFC” for films. “Although there is no official ban on the release of Pakistani films in India, no Pakistani film has been released in the country after the horrific Uri and Pulwama attacks,” sources in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, under which the CBFC functions, said.

“Pathaan”, directed by Siddharth Anand, was slated to release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. In his statement, CBFC chief Joshi said, “The film recently reached the CBFC examination board for certification. The film went through proper and thorough screening process as per CBFC guidelines. The committee has directed the makers to implement the suggested changes in the film including the songs and submit the revised version before the theatrical release.

In a follow-up statement issued later, Joshi said: “As far as the colors of the suits are concerned, the Committee has remained impartial. When the film is released, the reflection of this balanced approach will be clear to all.”

Joshi said the CBFC is committed to finding the “right balance between creative expression and audience sensitivity”. “While the process is being properly followed and implemented, I must reiterate that our culture and faith is glorious, complex and nuanced. And we must be careful not to be defined by trifles that take the focus away from the real and the truth,” he said in the second statement.

Noting that “there is always a provision for makers to voluntarily make changes to their film and submit an agreed version further”, Joshi said, “Certification under the right category is important and the committee made sure that it was shown due care. as to the age appropriateness of the film for the relevant category.”

YRF did not respond to a request for comment from The Indian Express. “Pathaan” will mark Shah Rukh’s return to the big screen in a lead role after four years. His last film as the main protagonist was “Zero” (2018). “Pathaan” joins the list of big-ticket films such as Aamir Khan starrer “Laal Singh Chaddha” and fantasy action saga “Brahmastra”, which featured Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, to face boycott calls.

The Legend Of Maula Jatt would be the first Pakistani film to release in India in over a decade, after Shoaib Mansoor’s Bol (2011).

“It will be played in Punjab and some theaters in Delhi at INOX where there are Punjabi speaking people,” the programming section of INOX Leisure Ltd had said on December 26.

On the same day, PVR Cinemas shared a release announcement on its official Instagram page but deleted it soon after. “Introducing the official poster of #TheLegendofMaulaJatt! Coming to PVR this Friday (December 30),” the post read. The release was also advertised by booking aggregators like bookmyshow.

A remake of the 1979 Pakistani cult classic Maula Jatt, the 2022 version released on October 13 in Pakistan and other countries, and grossed over Rs 220 crore at the worldwide box office. In the film, a local folk hero named Maula Jatt confronts his nemesis Noori Natt, who is the leader of another clan.

As news of the film’s release in India gained momentum, posts appeared on social media quoting the alleged statements of one of the actors, Hamzi Ali Abbasi, “in support of terrorist Hafiz Saeed”.

Soon, Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) warned cinema hall owners against screening the film and sent letters to various establishments, including Zee Studios, Movietime Cinema, August Entertainment and Tilak Entertainment.

MNS leader Ameya Khopkar said, “We want to tell the sympathizers of Pakistani artistes in India that if there is an attempt to show any kind of support to them, they will also face a boycott.”

Earlier this month, Pakistan-based OTT streaming platform Vidly TV was banned in India for “broadcasting anti-India content”.

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