Chaitanya Tamhane's National Award winning film 'Court' released in over 150 screens across India on April 17 and continues to hold its own in its second week, with 115 screens, including a release in Chennai last Friday. However, while the film seems all set to go into a third week with a release in Indore (according to its Facebook page), there has been no mention of Bangalore all this while.
The reason for this is now clear. According to a report in Bangalore Mirror published on Thursday, the internationally acclaimed courtroom dramedy will not release in the city, capital of the state of Karnataka, because of a nearly six-decade-old language-related conflict between Kannada, the language of the state, and Marathi, spoken in Maharashtra. Nearly 50% of the dialogue in 'Court' is in Marathi.
Shiladitya Bora, who acted as a distribution consultant for the film, told Bangalore Mirror that exhibitors don't want to take a chance and, hence, aren't releasing the film as it is a "bigger political issue." He has been told by exhibitors that they fear "anti-social elements" who might damage theatres, which has reportedly happened before.
"They've told us that they don't want to get involved especially since it is a Marathi film. While they have told us they will support us in other states, they've washed their hands off in Bengaluru. They don't want their cinemas getting affected because of some turmoil," Bora was quoted as saying.
The film, however, had been screened in Belgaum for a week, says the report. This is especially ironic given that the language issue that has prevented the film's release in Bangalore is popularly known as the Belagum border dispute. Belgaum, a city with population of more than 6.9 lakh, is in Karnataka, but is claimed by Maharashtra on grounds of language, given that its local language is said to be Marathi.
However, according to a report in The Hindu, PVR Cinemas has refuted these allegations and said that the movie did not release because of "a lack of slots."