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Had Sanjay Leela Bhansali abused prophet Mohammed and Quran, like what he has done to Ram and ‘Ramleela’, Islamists would have beheaded him

I am surprised that the judges of the Delhi High Court did not find anything objectionable in the misuse, abuse, and mockery of ‘Ram’ and ‘Ramleela’ by Sanajay Leela Bhansali in his film. I’m also amazed at such selective liberalism and secularism of the Indian judiciary. Do the judges believe that taking such liberties with Hindu icons is no big deal?

I’m certain had this been the case of a filmmaker taking such liberties with Islamic icons like their prophet and holy book, things would have been different. The judges would have thought a few thousand times before delivering such a cavalier verdict. And had they done it there would have been a global ‘fatwa’ calling upon the believers of the ‘religion of peace’ to behead their family members and them for encouraging such blasphemy. They would have had to live under the shadow of death for their entire life in spite of the Z Plus security provided by the Indian state majorly at the cost of Rambhakts.

And what would happen to the filmmakers and those associated with it? The severed heads of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kishore Lulla, Deepika Padukone, and Ranveer Singh would be hanging at a lamppost at Juhu circle by now. And the same Bollywood icons who are so liberal in showering praises over the songs and trailer of Ramleela, would not have dared to even attend their funeral.

Everyone knows how brave are these Bollywood biggies. I recall how the name of a film called Mustafa was promptly changed to Ghulam-e-Mustafa. What it took was a call from a D Company henchman from Karachi. None had to move the Court. D Company ka faisla Hindustan ki Supreme Court, aur saare High Courts ka bhi baap hai. Usme sunwaee nahin hoti, seedhe sazaa milti hai.

I’m a filmmaker and one of those rare ultra-liberal Hindus who believe in absolute freedom to express, provoke, protest, and propagate their views through the medium of cinema art. I don’t believe in censorship of any kind. But I’m damn pissed off by what Sanjay Leela Bhansali has done. He is a bastardised and bad filmmaker in my well-considered view. I say this after having looked at his body of work. It’s referenced cinema that has become the biggest stumbling block in the way of the healthy development of this art form in India and  the copycat filmmakers of the Bhansali kind are responsible for spreading this debilitating virus.

But why am I pissed off and so angry?  I’m also a person who believes in being just and equitable. That’s my Kashtriya genealogy quite moderated now, yet largely preserved through the ages.  ‘Ab talwar nahin chalata lekin computer ke key board par anguliyan bhanjta rahta hoon.’ And what I’m seeing around me is deliberate, disrespectful, and mischievous targeting by the media and by some others, of Hindu icons and everything else associated with Hinduism. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Ramleela seems like a continuation of the trend.

What makes me angrier is Bhansali’s blatant and cavalier mockery of the name of a much-revered and venerated Avatar of the Hindu pantheon. A billion Hindus around the globe are inspired and enamored by the story of Lord Ram, the 7th incarnation of Vishnu. It’s a tradition followed for thousands of years. He is called Maryada Purushottam or the one who sets the highest moral standards for mankind. He is the best king, the best son to his parents, the best husband, the best brother, the best friend, the best father, and the best leader of his people. He personifies the highest ideals to be followed by entire humanity. He is idolized and worshipped with great veneration by Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Many believe that by merely chanting His name, one can attain salvation, the highest aspiration of the devout. He is not just a mere messenger of God like Mohammed and Christ, but an incarnation.

And what is Ramleela?  It is a dramatization of the story of Lord Ram, an integral part of our hoary and holy tradition, culture, history, and Hindu religion and folklore, celebrated and staged in India and in the countries that have immigrant Hindu population. They include Fiji, Mauritius, South Africa, Canada, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Great Britain, The Netherlands, the United States, New Zealand and Australia. Some Asian nations such as Laos and Thailand also follow similar drama traditions based on the Ramayana.

Look at the obvious mischief now. Bhansali is making a film based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet and gives it the title Ramleela.  What is his justification for the title? The male lead in the story is called Ram and since Bhansali wanted to paya tribute to his mother, he named the female lead as Leela after his mother’s name and thus found the title of his film, Ramleela. Is that so? Obviously not. He has merely invented this indefensible argument. Mr. Bhansali must be aware that Ram is not just any name and there can be many Leelas but Ramleela is just one.

You have the first-look poster of the film and the trailer out now. They are a definite evidence that Bhansali wanted to connect his film  to the Ramleela tradition. The title of the film in the poster has a typeface that indicates that the story has ancient roots. This is the subliminal part. Bhansali does not stop at this. The trailer and the so-far-released music videos expose his mischievous intent further. He liberally uses Ramayana iconography here and connects the film to the story of Lord Ram. His claim that the title of his film has nothing to do with Lord Ram and Ramleela is bunkum and bogus. It has everything to do with the most revered Hindu icon and His legendry and divine saga, and Bhansali is force-fitting it into the Romeo & Juliet story. So what do we get here? Romeo & Juliet rechristened as Ramleela.

The problem is that the Romeo in this story renamed as Ram is anything but Godly. He is a hunk who publicly boasts of his prowess and staying power as a performer in the coitus act. He even looks like a porn film star.

Bhansali gave an interview recently about the cancellation of the film's music launch event. He cancelled it because the film's male lead Ranveer Singh was taken ill. How did he describe it? He said there cannot be Ramleela without Ram. He has also been talking about how fond he was of watching Ramleela and how it inspired him.

Going by his claims so far, Bhansali also has compromised the artistic integrity of the film by titling it Ramleela. If his film is not a reinterpretation of the story of Ram, why does it have iconography, songs, and dialogues associated with Lord Ram? Why should the male lead be called Ram? The word Ram invokes certain imagery, and sentiments. Does the male lead represent any of that? No. So, why call someone Ram who looks more like a well-oiled horny stud? Bhansali is obviously doing it to promote his film by deliberately provoking Hindus to gain free publicity. This is not an artistic decision but a blatant and reprehensible marketing ploy to hype his film while disregarding and hurting the religious sentiments of a billion people of the world.

The title of Bhansali’s film as Ramleela and the name of the male lead of his story as Ram have nothing to do with the original story the filmmaker claims his film is based on. This mischievous juxtaposition has no artistic merits and thus the film should be condemned, censured, and withdrawn from the public domain and released only after it’s suitably amended.

Should Hindus tolerate this kind of mischief mongering?  They must not. This is injustice and those who keep tolerating such injustice will continue to be kicked around, abused, and mistreated.  Ramleela is an obvious attempt to insult, and abuse the name of their most revered icon Lord Shri Ram and they must rise in protest against this for the sake of their honor and should consider it as an attack on their culture and lifestyle. They must not tolerate such intolerance and blasphemous and deliberate mischief-mongering through such derogatpory and deplorable portrayals of their icons. In other words, it’s time to say we won’t take such shit from bastardised filmmakers of dubious artistic credentials, ideologues, activists, judges, the media, and the political establishment.

Surprisingly, Bhansali has also been claiming that he is a devout Hindu and a Ram and Devi bhakt and he keeps regular ‘navratri’ vrata. Why is he tom-toming it? Obviously to promote his film. So, we know now that he is not just a filmfaker, he is a fake Hindu as well whose commitment to and understanding of Hindu icons and pantheon is merely confined to some kind of a ritualistic dieting regime. This is the character of these filmfakers, they can do anything, even sell their faith and mothers to make their moolah.

So, here is what those who look at Shri Ram as an Avatar and God incarnated can do apart from protesting on streets and burning the effigies of the filmfaker. They should be filing NAMED (Naamzad) FIRs in their nearest police stations with big fanfare and here is more.

The Film has yet to be censored. They should be writing to the Censor Board (CBFC) Chief and CEO. And here are the relevant addresses. The E.Maill address of the CBFC Chairperson and and CEO is also given. Write to them NOW, using some of the arguments raised in this article and relevant exhibits (Photographs & Videos) dowloaded from the net.

1. Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Writer, Director, Producer)
Sanjay Leela Bhansali Productions
201, Kailash Plaza, Plot No. A-12,
Opp. Laxmi Industrial Estate,
Off New Link Road, Andheri - (West),
Mumbai - 400053,
Maharashtra, India.
Tel: + (91 - 22) 6691 8500
Fax: + (91 - 22) 2673 2586

Head Office
Sanjay Leela Bhansali Films Pvt Ltd
601/B, Swati Mitra Cooperative Housing Society,
JVPD Scheme, Gulmohar Cross Road No 7,
Opposite Ecole Modern School, Juhu, Mumbai, - 400049
 Tel: + (91 - 22) 26235470/ 26234675
E. Mail: sanjayleelabhansalifilms@gmail.com
Web site: http://www.sanjayleelabhansali.com

Alternative Address
Shubham, 1st Floor, JVPD,
Gulmohar Cross Road No. 7,
Near Jeetendra's Bungalow,
Andheri-Vile Parle (W), Mumbai. 

2. Mr. Kishore Lulla (Producer and Distributor)
Corporate Office:
Eros International Media Ltd.
9th Floor, Supreme Chambers,
Off Veera Desai Road,
Mumbai - 400053,
Maharashtra, India.
Tel: + (91 - 22) 6602 1500
Fax: + (91 - 22) 6602 1540

Company Secretary & Compliance Officer:
Dimple Mehta

3. The Central Board of Film Certification

Smt. Leela Samson (Chairperson)
Chairperson(MUMBAI)
91-E, Bharat Bhavan,
Walkeshwar Road,
Mumbai-400006
022-23631048 (O)
E. Mail: chairperson.cbfc@nic.in

The Chief Executive Officer
91-E, Bharat Bhavan,
Walkeshwar Road,
Mumbai-400006
022-23631048 (O)
E. Mail: ceo.cbfc@nic.in

The film also contravenes some of the CBFC guidelines. Here is a relevant portion you can use in your letter.

“ The Cinematograph Act lays down that a film shall not be certified if any part of it is against the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite commission of any offence. Under section 5B(2) the Central Government has issued the following guidelines.

A film is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact and is examined in the light of the period depicted in the film and the contemporary standards of the country and the people to whom the film relates, provided that the film does not deprave the morality of the audience. Guidelines are applied to the titles of the films also.

  1. Objectives of Film Certification

i)    the medium of film remains responsible and sensitive to the values and standards of society;
ii)   artistic expression and creative freedom are not unduly curbed;
iii)  certification is responsible to social changes;
iv)  the medium of film provides clean and healthy entertainment; and
v)   as far as possible, the film is of aesthetic value and cinematically of a good standard.

For more details of the CBFC Guidelines, visitthe CBFC Web Site.

http://cbfcindia.gov.in

Rajesh Kumar Singh