Fickle over films

Fickle over films


Six petitioners, including the Prabhu Samaj Dharmik Ram Leela Committee, had their way when a Delhi court restrained Eros Entertainment from releasing the film Ram-Leela on their argument that people would watch this film with an expectation that it would be related to the life of Lord Ram and their sentiments would be hurt.

Within a day, the film’s name had been changed to incorporate its tagline, thus becoming Goliyon ki Raasleela Ram-Leela, resulting in the court withdrawing its restraint, and all was well again. Well, not all. The Madhya Pradesh High Court then asked the makers to remove any mention of ‘Ram-Leela’ from the film’s name, again on religious and cultural grounds.

It’s a worrying trend, but one that has the potential to lead to unintentional hilarity. The public interest litigation (PIL) that led to the initial restraint can set a precedent of many such cases. And given the nature of the judgment, one wonders what there is to stop the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, popularly known as Iskcon, from suing the makers of films like Kishen Kanhaiya for misleading audiences into thinking that they would be watching a film about the life and times of Lord Krishna? The same conclusion can be drawn for films like Karan Arjun, Ram Lakhan and Kurukshetra.

But, that’s just mythology. What about hurting professionals? Filmmaker Priyadarshan has already experienced their ire, having to drop Barber and going with just Billu. We may next have physicists taking up cudgels against John Abraham-starrer Force for naming a film after a scientific term and then defying the very laws of physics that govern it! In much the same manner, astronomers may gun for Taare Zameen Par or Khoya Khoya Chand for having nothing to do with celestial bodies, and doctors target Irrfan Khan-starrer Rog for not pertaining to any medical malady. And the Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors may be especially miffed at an Amitabh Bachchan-starrer for ‘misappropriating’ the organisation’s acronym but not featuring the medicos anywhere.

Then, given how cricket is a religion in India, some devotee may very well go after J P Datta for Border. After all, it made no mention of the former Australian cricket captain who lends his name, along with Gavaskar, to a trophy that India and Australia compete for regularly. The plaintiffs might very well argue that Datta hurt their ‘religious’ sentiments by misleading them into seeing a film that wasn’t about Alan Border, despite the nomenclature.

One gets the feeling that political parties won’t be all that behind either, and in the firing line would be Suhasini Manirathnam-directed Arvind Swamy-starrer Tamil film Indira, for having nothing to do with our former prime minister, or the flick’s Hindi version Priyanka, for misleading people by not being the biopic of the said prime minister’s granddaughter.

However, all may not have been lost. Before one Delhi court restrained Ram-Leela, the Delhi High Court itself had thrown out a similar petition by an NGO and imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on it for its actions. Here’s hoping that better sense prevails, and people’s sensitivities evolve to the point where such cinematic nomenclature fails to hurt them. But till then, we tread on eggshells.