MUMBAI: An NCP MLC has succeeded in goading the city’s mayor into playing the moral police. The latest victim is the film Jism 2, starring Sunny Leone, whose posters will now have to be removed from all BEST buses.
NCP MLC Vidya Chavan knocked on the doorsof chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, state home minister R R Patil, the special branch of Mumbai police, BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte and ultimately city mayor Sunil Prabhu over the last couple of days, finally eliciting the response she was looking for from Prabhu.
The mayor took up the matter with the BEST and the BMC administrations and, by Wednesday evening, every “objectionable” poster was removed from 75 BEST buses and 25 depots, besides electricity poles and bus shelters.
The strange alacrity with which the BMC and the BEST responded drew sharp protests from legal experts and Bollywood fraternity and even other politicians.
IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh found the entire exercise a violation of personal freedom. “There are specific laws to deal with this. People having objections should have approached a court of law and it was for the court to give whatever directives it deemed fit,” he added.
A Congress MLA from the western suburbs thought it was unfair to judge the film by its posters. “Aren’t we jumping the gun and infringing on someone else’s freedom?” he asked.
Legal expert Mihir Desai felt it was completely unjustified. “The level of tolerance is going down in Mumbai and, instead of focusing on law and order, the administration wants to impose its own morality on the city,” he added.
Filmmaker and writer Mahesh Bhatt, whose daughter Pooja was the producer of the film, said he had decided to remove the posters from all over Mumbai as “it was a battle not worth fighting”. He said he had decided to replace the old posters with new ones.
“Censoring images created by the human mind has been going on since the dark ages. In recent times, I remember Qurban’s posters were pulled down by the moral police. I guess the more things change, the more they remain the same. Individual freedom has always been trampled upon under the name of larger good by the political class,” Bhatt said.
But will all this affect the film’s business? Trade analyst Amod Mehra said, “This will not affect the box-office business of the film.” Another trade pundit said there was a lot of curiosity about the film.
The moral brigade, however, saw things differently. “What is the film industry’s definition ofentertainment these days? Is making money their only motto? We talk about sexual harassment of women and the next thing we see nude posters on BEST buses and electric poles. What is the message we are giving to the youth? The Jism 2 posters are downright vulgar. Even school-going kids get to see them on roads,” was Chavan’s logic. Chavan was actively involved in closing of dance bars in the past.
Prabhu said instructions were issued to the BEST general manger to issue notices to advertising contractors to remove the posters immediately. BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said, “We received a message from BMC officials that the posters were objectionable and I immediately advised the contractors to remove them.”
A representative from Rakesh Advertising that handles the advertising rights for BEST buses, told TOI: “We had overlooked the posters and it was not done intentionally. I personally received a request from Gupta and ordered my men to go to all 25 depots and remove posters from 75 buses within an hour.” The posters were also removed from other areas including bus stops and electricity police subsequently.
Civic chief Sitaram Kunte said the BMC was “concerned only with properties belonging to the BMC”. “There was a complaint from Chavan and I asked the BEST general manager to check for violations in obscenity clauses and take the necessary corrective action on BEST stands, buses and electric poles. We have nothing against the movie. We shall verify about the obscenity,” he added.
(With inputs from Rebecca Sammerval)
- Jism 2 smoothens out for its cast and crew! (filmsofindia.wordpress.com)
- Jism 2- India’s 1st Erotic Thriller, trailer released on Twitter (indologygoa.wordpress.com)
- Wild on the wall: Film-makers let posters do all the talking as Bollywood gets bolder (dailymail.co.uk)