Why the makers of 'Mohalla Assi' have filed a petition against CBFC chief, Prasoon Joshi

Whether or not Mohalla Assi will hit theatres is a question that is still left unanswered

Sunny Deol-starrer Mohalla Assi has been at the centre of controversies for long. The film’s certification has been stuck for over two years, and now makers have filed a contempt petition against Prasoon Joshi, the chief of Central Board of Film Certification. Crossword Entertainment has alleged that the CBFC chief failed to comply with Delhi High Court’s orders to give the film a certificate.

On December 11, the court set aside the order of CBFC which denied the film a certification. The HC gave the movie, one cut and an A certificate, quashing 9 out of 10 modifications proposed by the CBFC. The HC allowed a disclaimer to be displayed at the beginning of the movie. The one modification which the court retained was the deletion of a cuss word uttered by a man dressed as Lord Shiva.

The judgment of the court has been challenged by CBFC, and a review petition has been listed for January 5, next year. In the contempt matter filed by the makers, the Bench of Justice AK Chawla directed the CBFC to file a compliance affidavit within five days and listed the matter for January 12, 2018.

Also read: S Durga denied CBFC certification, 5 films we wish the censor board had paid this much attention to

Mohalla Assi is loosely based on Dr Kashi Nath Singh’s novel named Kashi Ka Assi. The film is a satirical take on the commercialization of the old city, and the fake gurus who lure foreign tourists to make quick money. The film was supposed to release in 2015, and the trailer was released in June. After the release, however, trouble started mounting for the film. A Delhi resident, Gulshan Kumar, filed a complaint against the makers saying the film hurt religious sentiments. Kumar raised issue against a scene in the film which showed a man dressed as Lord Shiva saying cuss words in exchange for a few hundred rupees.

In June 2015, the court ordered a stay on the film’s release till the objectionable scenes are removed. Judge Kishor Kumar had said,

Use of such language by Lord Shiva makeover is really hurting… Therefore, at this stage, a prima facie case is made out that until the religiously hurting scenes and dialogues/words wherein the abusive and filthy language has been used, are removed, the movie should not be released.

Also read: Bhoomi: Prasoon Joshi led CBFC orders 12 cuts including word ‘Asaram’ in the Sanjay Dutt film

The film was banned by the CBFC in July 2016, owing to the expletive content. The trailer of the film showed actors using abusive language. The makers of the film then approached the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) in November, last year. The FCAT told the makers to delete a few scenes, after which they would review the film. On failing to find a concrete help from the Tribunal, the film’s team approached the court, saying they would fight the battle till the finish, despite the film’s leak online.

Back then the director Dr Chandraprakash Dwivedi had said:

Initially, we were told that FCAT is considering adding a strong disclaimer; we had unconditionally agreed to that. The FCAT verdict that followed was very surprising as we were not given a chance to argue about the cuts that they ordered later. There was no application of mind in the FCAT order. Despite 12 hearings, the HC has heard the arguments only partially. The judge has already seen the movie. We hope the matter will be heard properly.

Whether or not Mohalla Assi will see a proper release is still an unanswered question.

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