The flick has given BJP and the Congress another subject to trade barbs.
The year 2018 had begun on a controversial note for the Hindi film industry with the controversy surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali's magnum opus Padmaavat.
It seems 2019 will be no different as The Accidental Prime Minister, based on the eponymous book by former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's media advisor Sanjaya Baru, is set to hit the screens on January 11.The flick has given BJP and the Congress another subject to trade barbs. While Congress is wary of "misrepresentation of facts to malign the party and former party president Sonia Gandhi", BJP seems a little too enthusiastic about the "riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years".
Riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years. Was Dr Singh just a regent who was holding on to the PM’s chair till the time heir was ready? Watch the official trailer of #TheAccidentalPrimeMinister, based on an insider’s account, releasing on 11 Jan! pic.twitter.com/ToliKa8xaH
— BJP (@BJP4India) December 27, 2018
In fact, BJP IT-Cell chief Amit Malvia also took a dig at Congress, telling them to "stand up for artistic freedom".
Why does Congress want to censor a film when the book it is based on was published way back in April 2014? Just because fewer people read books than watch a movie?December 28, 2018
However, when it was time to stand by Padmaavat, artistic freedom seemed to be an alien concept for BJP. At that time, incidentally in Madhya Pradesh, it was former chief minister and BJP leader Shivraj Singh Chauhan who had said that the film will not be released in the state even if it was passed by the Censor Board “as it disrespects Rashtra Mata Padmavati”. He even announced that the saga of Rani Padmavati will also be as part of the state’s school curriculum.
Meanwhile, in Rajasthan, which was the hotbed of protests during the Padmaavat controversy, former chief minister Vasundhara Raje had written a letter to the I&B Ministry to not release the film in the state citing law and order issues.
Both the leaders had even approached the Supreme Court demanding the ban of the film. When the period drama finally managed to release, it was banned in at least four states, including Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat – all ruled by the BJP at that time. And just to reiterate, the film was based on a ballad written by Jayasi.
But it would be wrong to let Congress off the hook. The party is historically known to ban films which have the slightest relation with the Gandhi family. For instance, the Grand Old Party had banned Sanjeev Kumar-starrer Aandhi as they felt that the film was allegedly based on Indira Gandhi's life. It was released in 1977 after a change of government at teh Centre. Similarly, the 1977 movie Kissa Kursi Ka was banned as it allegedly lampooned the Emergency.
To cite a more recent example, Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar faced unwarranted backlash from Congress workers. Since the film was set against the backdrop of Emergency, Maharashtra Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam demanded that the film be privately screened before the Congress before it hits the theatres. Déjà vu much?
In fact, Indu Sarkar’s promotional event had to be cancelled in Nagpur with Congress leaders vehemently opposing the release of the film.What seemed to be a silver lining in the clouds that shroud the artistic freedom in our country, was when Congress President Rahul Gandhi okayed a line which had a derogatory undertone associated with his father Rajiv Gandhi in Netflix's drama Sacred Games. The director of the show, Anurag Kashyap had rejoiced at the tweet:
BJP/RSS believe the freedom of expression must be policed & controlled. I believe this freedom is a fundamental democratic right.
My father lived and died in the service of India. The views of a character on a fictional web series can never change that.#SacredGames— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) July 14, 2018
Now, it seems the clouds are back again and a storm is about to gather momentum.But to be champions of artistic freedom in this country is like building a beautiful garden over a graveyard.
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