Jolly LLB 2 case: How the Hindi film industry became controversy's favourite child over the past year
Jolly LLB 2, a courtroom drama, ironically finds itself embroiled in a legal controversy. However, this past year has been no different for Hindi films.
Barring Shaad Ali's romantic comedy Ok Jaanu, all the Hindi films that have seen the light of the day this year have been embroiled in some kind of controversy, risking the release of the film in certain areas. Now, Subhash Kapoor's courtroom drama Jolly LLB 2 also finds itself in the midst of a legal battle as Bombay High Court has ordered the deletion of four scenes from the film. In fact, the lead actor of the film, Akshay Kumar, and director Kapoor have been summoned by a Jaipur court for projecting the judiciary in an objectionable light.
Jaipur has been in the news for yet another controversy. Two weeks ago, members of Shri Rajput Karni Sena vandalised the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's period biopic Padmavati and slapped the filmmaker for allegedly shooting a dream romantic sequence between Islamic plunderer Alauddin Khilji and the revered figure of their clan, Rani Padmavati.
When a large fraction of the film fraternity condemned the mob attack, it brought back flashes from last year when a host of film personalities extended their support to the team of Udta Punjab who were ordered by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to execute 89 cuts for the film to release with an 'A' certificate. Eventually, Bombay High Court cleared the Abhishek Chaubey film with a single cut and an 'A' certificate.
Since then, the CBFC has gone fairly lax on the films as it released unconventional films like Aditya Chopra's Befikre and Ok Jaanu with minor verbal cuts. It also cleared Jolly LLB 2 with a U/A certificate and a few verbal cuts before Bombay High Court sent the film back to the board for review.
An advocate, Ajaykumar S Waghmare, had filed a petition in Bombay High Court, alleging that Jolly LLB 2 maligns the reputation of the legal profession by presenting lawyers in a bad light.
A similar controversy emerged last year when an army man filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the CBFC against the makers of Mastizaade for "diminishing the dignity of the mothers and wives of mean deployed in armed forces." This complaint was directed towards a fleeting dialogue of Sunny Leone's character in the film. Milaap Zaveri's Mastizaade was also at the receiving end of an FIR for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by promoting the use of condoms in a vulgar manner.
In a similar incident, the Sikh community objected to Akash Deep's comedy Santa Banta Pvt Ltd for projecting the Sikh community in an objectionable light. Now, even the Supreme Court has rejected the petition of the community to ban the circulation of Santa-Banta jokes as they cannot dictate modes of leisure to the citizens.
Often small budget films like these bear the brunt of such insularity as they are easier to suppress. Political dramas like Vivek Agnihotri's Buddha In A Traffic Jam and Pranav Kumar Singh's Shorgul are good examples. While the former was not allowed to be screened at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) by the administration, the latter was banned in Muzaffarnagar since it revolved around the riots that took place in the Uttar Pradesh town in 2013. In fact, fatwas were issued against the lead actor Jimmy Shergill and the makers.
Then came the Uri attack which took the entire country by a storm and its effect were felt even on the Hindi film industry. Karan Johar was forced to contribute Rs 5 crore to the Army Welfare Fund to ensure a smooth release of his romantic saga Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. Since his film had Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in a supporting role, the members of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) coerced Johar to shell out some money, threatening to vandalise the theatres screening his film, in case he fails to do so.
Pakistan consequently banned the import of Hindi films. Even while the ban was not in effect, it prohibited the release of films like Mudassar Aziz's Happy Bhag Jayegi for projecting a Pakistani policeman in a negative light and disrespecting the portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Pakistan authorities lifted the ban last week, allowing the release of Sanjay Gupta's revenge drama Kaabil. It was seen as a sign of hope before they banned Rahul Dholakia's crime drama Raees for undermining Islam and portraying Muslims as terrorists, murderers and wanted men.
It seemed like the gangsters or underworld biggies in Raees spilled out of the screen when the makers of Coffee with D released an audio recording of Dawood Ibrahim's associates dishing out life threats for presenting their dreaded leader in a comical light in their film.
Gangsters, censors, court cases, community protests, government imposed bans and countless debates - the Hindi film industry has seen it all in the past one year. Is this a convenient trend that has gained traction after the Ae Dil Hai Muskil controversy or do these innumerable objections to creative liberty of the filmmakers actually reflect the collective sensibilities of the nation?
The makers of Jolly LLB 2 have made the necessary changes, as dictated by Bombay High Court. However, the deleted scenes are now common knowledge, owing to the wide coverage of the legal battle. Thus, it will not be completely wrong to say that the whole purpose of deleting the 'objectionable' content stands defeated.
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