As the producers of Kedarnath try to cajole the public into seeing the movie, it’s hard not to be angry at how convenient it is these days to hold a film hostage (and effectively earn your 15 seconds of fame?). Merely a few days after a gurudwara in Delhi filed a complaint against Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero for ‘incorrectly depicting’ a kirpaan, we have another group that has taken ‘offence’ to Abhishek Kapoor’s Kedarnath.
Senior BJP leader Ajendra Ajay, member of party’s media relations team, demanded a ban on Kedarnath by alleging that the film was ‘hurting the sentiments of Hindus’ and ‘promoting love jihad’. Based on the film’s trailer, it gives us a peek into the love story between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl. And one of the film’s plot-points suggested in the trailer, is the bigotry on the part of the girl’s family. The father openly declares how he would rather wish for an Armageddon, rather than be a witness to this ‘union’. In a film that is underlining the bigotry of a group, it is especially amusing to see the priests of Kedarnath prove that bigotry by asking why the ‘lead character couldn’t be Hindu?’
Ajay also took offence to the fact that the inter-religious couple were shown kissing, in a film that is based in a place that is ‘sacred’ for Hindus. He dismissed the the film for being ‘factually incorrect’ for showing a Muslim porter. According to Ajay, there are none and he’s absolutely sure of it. He also couldn’t digest as to why the film had a love story in the foreground, when it was inspired by the 2013 flash floods that resulted in thousands of deaths.
So this is what India looks like in 2018. An inter-religious love story is a big no-no, considering the stance of the ruling party’s agenda for Hindus. The CBFC (Central Board For Film Certification) isn’t seen in the best light, especially after the chief (Prasoon Joshi) infamously participated in an interview with the Prime Minister, that was termed ‘fanboyish’ by some. And yet, India has become a country where the censor certificate is slowly losing its significance, considering how easily fringe elements can overrule the release of a film that has been both certified and cleared. We’ve also seen how this can turn violent, in the case of Padmaavat.
Producer Ronnie Screwvala has placed his faith in the CBFC citing that there is nothing ‘offensive’ in the film. “Firstly till date, nobody has approached us with anything that we can clarify. Secondly, our onus is to get the film censored and certified by the CBFC which is the sole body to decide on the film and thirdly, we all are creative people and we are Indians first. I do not think anyone of us will hurt any sentiment,” he was quoted by IANS.
Interesting to note, how these controversies conveniently take place between the launch of a teaser/poster and the eventual release of the film. Where the people taking ‘offence’ have seen barely a minute or only an image from it. The problem is most of these complainants don’t understand something as basic as ‘context’, the logic where a kiss consummates a love affair. And love that conquers the pure, naked fury of mother nature? Well, that’s expecting too much from BJP leader Ajay and the priests of Kedarnath.
It’s so easy to become famous in India these days. You just need to find a relatively popular film, and take offence to it.