Producer moves court against 'Jodhaa Akbar' ban in Madhya Pradesh

Feb 23, 2008 Aparna


New Delhi, Feb 23 (IANS) UTV Motion Pictures Saturday moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court to lift the ban on screening of "Jodhaa Akbar" in the state.

"The hearing is Monday. If nothing happens there, then we will move Supreme Court. We won't let this happen," Siddharth Roy Kapoor, marketing and distribution head of UTV Motion Pictures, told IANS on phone from Mumbai. The company has produced the movie.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in Madhya Pradesh Friday suspended the screening of "Jodhaa Akbar", a week after the movie was released, fearing that it would cause a law and order problem in the state as a particular community was against the film's content.

People belonging to the Kshatriya (Rajput) community have been protesting against the movie that they claim has distorted historical facts. They have said that the film portrays Mughal emperor Akbar's wife Jodha Bai as a Kshatriya, though she was not one.

"We are appalled that the film has been banned in Madhya Pradesh. The Censor Board cleared the movie without any cuts. When a film is cleared by the Censor Board, the state should ensure that the film is screened across the country without disruption," Kapoor said.

The entire film industry, including producers, distributors and exhibitors are up in arms against the state government order. In fact, the exhibitors' association in Madhya Pradesh has threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the ruling is not reversed.

"The distributors feel that it is one of the biggest releases of the year and they should be allowed to screen the movie," Kapoor said.

Asked about the ban in Rajasthan, Kapoor said: "We are talking to groups who are against the film. However, in Rajasthan, the state government hasn't issued any whip against the film. The film's distributors have decided not to screen it because they fear that if they do so, protesters will torch their halls. And they are justified in their action."

The three-hour, 20-minute movie was released in 26 countries Feb 15, but banned in Rajasthan. The Karni Sena has been spearheading a campaign in the state against the movie for quite sometime.

The community alleged that Ashutosh Gowariker presented Jodha Bai as Mughal emperor Jalaluddin Akbar's wife, which is factually incorrect.

According to them, Jodha Bai was not the daughter of Raja Bharmal of Amber as shown in the film, but the daughter of Motaraja Udai Singh of Marwar. And she was married to Akbar's son Salim alias Jehangir and was the mother of emperor Shah Jahan.

However, Gowariker claimed that he was careful in preserving Rajput pride and dignity while making the period drama starring Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai.

"I haven't been jingoistic or fanciful in depicting history. In fact, I've been very careful in preserving Rajput pride and dignity. There's a disclaimer about the Rajput queen's name at the beginning of the film and to see that, the protestors have to see the movie," he said.

Gowariker's epic love story saw a fair opening and grossed Rs.385 million worldwide in the opening weekend. The critics praised Hrtihik and Aishwarya's performance in the film.

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Jodhaa Akbar



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