Censor wants changes in 'Pathaan'; Pakistan blockbuster stalled – The Indian Express

TWO BIG-TICKET movies set for release in the country, Shah Rukh Khan-starrer “Pathaan” and Pakistani blockbuster ‘The Legend of Maula Jatt’, have run into rough weather.
Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Prasoon Joshi said in a statement Thursday that the makers of “Pathaan” have been asked to implement “advised changes…including the songs and submit the revised version”.
The move comes days after one of the movie’s songs, “Besharam Rang”, featuring Deepika Padukone in a saffron bikini, faced social media backlash allegedly for “hurting Hindu sentiments”. The song was released on YouTube by the producers, Yash Raj Films (YRF), on December 12.
The “Legend of Maula Jatt”, starring Pakistani actors Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, was scheduled for 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 the reason for stalling the release,” a spokesperson for INOX told The Indian Express.
Zee Studios had acquired the distribution rights of the movie, which was to 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 movie. But sources involved in the movie’s release said announcements by theatres are usually “done only after CBFC clearance” has been obtained for the films. “Even as there is no official ban on the release of Pakistani films in India, no Pakistani film has been released in the country in the wake of the dastardly Uri and Pulwama attacks,” sources in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, under which the CBFC functions, said.
“Pathaan”, directed by Siddharth Anand, was scheduled to release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. In his statement, CBFC chief Joshi said: “The film recently reached the CBFC examination committee for certification. The film went through the due and thorough examining process as per the CBFC guidelines. The committee has guided the makers to implement the advised changes in the film including the songs and submit the revised version prior to theatrical release.”
In a follow-up statement issued later, Joshi said, “As far as costume colours are concerned, the Committee has stayed unbiased. When the film comes out, the reflection of this balanced approach will be clear to everyone.”
Joshi said CBFC is committed to find “the right balance between creative expression and sensibility of the audience”. “Whilst the process is getting duly followed and implemented, I must reiterate that our culture and faith is glorious, intricate and nuanced. And we have to be careful that it does not get defined by trivia which takes the focus away from the real and the true,” he said in the second statement.
Pointing out that there is “always a provision for the makers to voluntarily make changes to their film and further submit an agreed upon version”, Joshi said, “Certification as per the right category is important and the committee made sure that due care is taken in terms of the film’s age appropriateness 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 leading role after four years. His last film as the main protagonist was “Zero” (2018). “Pathaan” joins the list of big-ticket movies, such as Aamir Khan-starrer “Laal Singh Chaddha” and fantasy action saga “Brahmastra”, which featured Ranbir Kapoor and Alia Bhatt, to face calls for a boycott.
“The Legend Of Maula Jatt” was to be the first Pakistani film to be released in India in more than a decade, after Shoaib Mansoor’s “Bol” (2011).
“It will be played in Punjab and a few theatres in Delhi in INOX where there are Punjabi-speaking people,” the programming section of INOX Leisure Ltd, had stated on December 26.
On the same day, PVR Cinemas shared a release announcement on its official Instagram page but deleted it soon after. “Presenting the official poster of #TheLegendofMaulaJatt! Coming to PVR this Friday (December 30),” the post had read. The release was also advertised by booking aggregators such as bookmyshow.
A remake of the 1979 Pakistani cult classic “Maula Jatt”, the 2022 version was released on October 13 in Pakistan and other countries, and clocked over Rs 220 crore at the box office worldwide. In the film, a local folk hero named Maula Jatt takes on his nemesis Noori Natt, who is the leader of another clan.
As news about the film’s release in India gathered momentum, posts appeared on social media quoting purported statements by 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 movie 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 sympathisers of Pakistani artists in India that if an attempt is made 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 “streaming anti-India content”.
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