Jitendra Tiwari and P Singh's Shorgul, an upcoming Hindi film said to be based on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, has been banned in Muzaffarnagar and a few other cities in western Uttar Pradesh.
According to reports and an emailed press release, the film, which stars Jimmy Sheirgill and Ashutosh Rana, will not be screened in Muzaffarnagar district, Meerut, Kandla, and Bhavani as per an order from the district magistrate.
“Since it is a sensitive issue, the district authorities are worried that it might reopen old wounds and lead to violence. That’s why they are not in favour of allowing the film to enter theatres in Muzaffarnagar,” said a film distribution source, in the emailed release sent by the makers.
The riots, regarded as the worst spate of communal violence the state has seen in recent memory, took the lives of 62 people in August and September 2013. Three years on, the spectre of the incident still seems to rub authorities the wrong way and filmmakers have borne the brunt of this mentality. The documentary En Dino Muzaffarnagar, by the late Shubhradeep Chakravorty and Meera Chaudhary, has spent two years fighting a battle with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in order to get a certificate, in vain. Nakul Singh Sawhney's Muzaffarnagar Baaqi Haihas been the target of Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) activists, who have termed the film 'anti-Hindu' and have repeatedly blocked private screenings of the film.
Meanwhile, while the CBFC has given the film a U/A certificate, thereby clearing it for release (unlike the previous two examples), they've asked the makers to mute words such as 'Godhra' and 'Gau Ganga' — a request the makers have complied with. Objections were also raised to Sheirgill's character, which is said to have been modelled on real-life BJP MLA Sangeet Singh Som, who was accused of inciting violence through speeches, violating prohibitory orders, deterring public servants from doing their duty, and wrongful restraint. A PIL was filed against the movie's makers with an intent to bar its release by supporters of Som, who surrendered before a local court in January and was let off on bail; however, a fortnight ago, it was dismissed by the Allahabad High Court bench.
Vyas Verma, the film's co-producer, said in the statement: “We have repeatedly stated that Shorgul is not a depiction of any specific incident or occurrence, but a reflection of what happens in our society keeping Uttar Pradesh as the backdrop. But, this news (of the film’s ban in Muzaffarnagar) is unfortunate and sad. We want to question the authorities why they are particularly stopping the film in Muzaffarnagar. Are they afraid of anything?”
Shorgul is set to release in theatres this Friday. Watch the trailer below.
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