Bollywood is known to come out in support of their peers more often than not when it comes to threats that could affect their artistic freedom. While Udta Punjab saw industry stalwarts like Karan Johar to Aamir Khan extend full support to the makers, movies like Shorgul have had to suffer the short end of the stick.
Featuring Jimmy Sheirgill and Ashutosh Rana, the film is a fictional depiction of the friendship between a Hindu Boy and Muslim girl and the religious unrest that ensues as a result.
The film has been marred in controversies even since its release date was announced. Last week, a fatwa was issued against actor Jimmy Sheirgill and the makers of Shorgul accusing them of hurting Muslim sentiments and inciting religious violence. The diktat states, “a seasoned actor like Jimmy Sheirgill has hurt the sentiments of the Muslim community by enacting scenes that will cause unrest in the community through the dialogues and scene depictions.”
Although the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has cleared the film with a U/A certificate, a PIL was filed in Uttar Pradesh banning the movie from releasing in the state. The alleged real life references to politicians such as Sangeet Singh Som, Akhilesh Yadav and Azam Khan, who have said to be the inspiration for the characters played by Jimmy Sheirgill, Sanjay Suri and Narendra Jha respectively, too, have only added more fuel to this controversy.
The way in which the industry came forward for Udta Punjab everyone believed that the same support would be meted out to Shorgul. It's disheartening to see that the same voices who spoke for freedom of expression now are silent when it comes to Shorgul.
Regardless, Shorgul makers are marching forth for a 1st July release.