'Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar': A primer on the film Bombay HC used in ‘Udta Punjab’ hearing
The Bombay High Court has pulled up CBFC for objecting to words such as ‘election’ and ‘MLA’ in Udta Punjab. According to CNN-News18, the HC in its observations told the censor board, “How can you say delete the words ‘election’, ‘MLA’ and ‘MP’? Remember a movie called Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar.”
For all of you born in this century (or lived your lives under a rock) and have not heard of this movie, well here’s a primer:
Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar is a 1984 movie which stars Rajesh Khanna as the eponymous politician. The story follows Ram Avtar, a village barber, who rises to fame when a political party chooses him to contest local elections. He does, and wins, making him a rising star in the political scene. Ram Avtar transforms from a humble widower and father of three children to a man obsessed with power and the trappings that come with it. The film also stars Shatrughan Sinha and Shabana Azmi.
The movie reportedly made Rs 2 crore. Sounds paltry compared to the Rs 100 crore and Rs 200 crore clubs? If you count for 7 to 10 percent interest rate, today it would range anywhere between Rs 18 crore and Rs 46 crore.
The movie was a remake of the Telugu film MLA Yedukondalu.
Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar called for reform in the political sphere but used satire to do so.
Incidentally, the Rajesh Khanna film released two months after Inquilaab, a movie starring rival Amitabh Bachchan. That film too calls for political reform but in a totally different way: it ends with (spoilers ahead) the minister, played by Amitabh, gunning down the entire cabinet. Honest, no kidding.
If the HC’s comments have sparked your interest in Aaj Ka MLA Ram Avtar, you can watch it on YouTube: