National Awardee in 1980, stuck with censors in 2016

Aug 31, 2016, 16:51 IST | Mohar Basu

Release date of film on Chapekar Brothers pushed after CBFC refuses to clear scene

A still from upcoming film 'Chapekar Brothers'

On Sunday, the Examining Committee of the Central Board of Film Certification asked the makers of upcoming Hindi film, Chapekar Brothers (due to release on September 2) to remove a scene that has one of the brothers killing a Christian missionary for forcing Hindus to convert during the British Raj. The makers objected to this by citing that a 1979 Marathi film titled 22 June 1897, based on the revolutionaries, included a similar scene. The vernacular film went on to win the National Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration the following year, but the CBFC refused to use the reference as legitimate.

When we reached out to producer Ghanshyam Patel, he told us, "Besides the references of the film, we also named the Marathi books we have based our research on. Chapekar Parva by Sachchidanand Shevde and Kanthasthan Ani Balidaan are two books we have used extensively. They outright rejected the 1979 film as a source. Though ours is a watered down version of the original film, the CBFC still wanted us to cut the scene. They told us that the Censor Board rules are different now than they were in 70s and 80s. But how can we tamper with history? The Chapekar brothers were against religious conversion and the autocracy of the British Raj. These are historical instances and not showing them in the film will affect its intensity. For now the release has been postponed."

A unit hand, who was present for the screening on Sunday was told by a Censor Board member, “Is there any reference of the Catholic priest in the books? Beating up a priest minus any solid proof can lead to chaos in the community. Deleting it won’t harm the film. In any case, there is no need to get into unnecessary uproar over something that might not be authentic.”

The hapless producers are still planning their next course of action. "Going to the Revising Committee is an option but we will first resubmit the copy with relevant disclaimers. We were told that they can give us a U Certificate only if we cut the scene. It hurts that when a Rajkumar Hirani decides to say something bold in PK, it's okay, but there is no support for small producers. It is a four-minute scene but is integral to the plot."

When we reached out to Pahlaj Nihalani, he told us that he is yet to sign the Censor certificate and isn’t in a position to comment.

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