The much-anticipated television premiere of Vidya Balan starrer "The Dirty Picture " was stalled at the last moment Sunday, despite 59 cuts in the film to make it suitable for television viewing. While film's director Milan Luthria is shocked and disappointed, filmmaker Karan Johar branded it hypocrisy.
The government moved quickly to stall the screening of film by an entertainment television channel, ostensibly due to its "adult" content, and asked the channel to telecast it late in the night after prime time.
Information and broadcasting ministry officials in New Delhi told IANS that they have sent a letter to Sony TV not to telecast the movie during prime time Sunday.
"The channel has been told to screen the movie only after 11 p.m.," they said to a query in this regard.
This directive from the ministry left Luthria, fuming, even as the Mumbai film industry reacted angrily to the development.
"I am shocked and disappointed that this decision was taken at the last moment. For the last two months we have been working on this and as per the rule few scenes had to be cut to get the U/A certificate. Don't harass us like this," Luthria told IANS.
"We re-submitted the film after 59 cuts. Now I am curious to know why has this happened. DVDs of the films are already out and many people have already seen it," Luthria added.
The film, which is reportedly based on the story of late southern actress Silk Smitha and fetched Vidya Balan her first National Award, was to be shown at 12 noon and at 8 p.m. Sunday on Sony TV. However, it was not shown. Sony had bought the rights of the Ekta Kapoor's production venture for Rs 8 crore.
After the decision to pull it off from the small screen, Sony ran a ticker saying: "For unavoidable reasons we regret to inform that the film 'The Dirty Picture ' will not be telecast today. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted."
Johar too was surprised at the decision.
"A national award winning film cannot have a national telecast??? this is not an irony but plain and simple hypocrisy!!!! #dirtypicture. If the censorship is not a final authority then what is??? Complicated and blurred lines defeat the core of democracy!!!! #dirtypicture," he tweeted.
The film, which also features Tusshar Kapoor, Naseeruddin Shah and Emraan Hashmi, is replete with "bold scenes" and after cuts it was given a UA certification for being shown on Indian television.
Tusshar also expressed his disappointment on Twitter.
"Really unfortunate that after all the necessary cuts and a valid UA certificate, The Dirty Picture could not be telecast today on Sony TV," he tweeted.
"In light of recent events that exposed the dark side of Bollywood, 'The Dirty Picture' was well timed as it depicts a similar harsh reality!
"Sad that inspite of being acclaimed for it's entertaining realism and having won 3 National Awards the regulatory forces have stalled the show," Tusshar posted.