KHAP which was released this Friday has not been shown in Haryana, as the distributors are wary about inviting the wrath of the powerful Khaps. Though the film has not been able to make waves, otherwise, the sheer fact that the distributors did not have the guts to allow showing the movie, in itself is a pointer about the fact that indeed KHAP was going to touch the raw nerve of the Khaps somewhere.
As a matter of fact, though the censor board clears a film for all India distribution, quite often it happens that a particular cinema is not released in a particular territory as it could dent the image of a political leader in that area or an ideology for that matter, non-release of KHAP all across Haryana, the Khap land, being a clear pointer about the fact. If we remember ZAKHM, which was the first film in all probability that underlined the fact that Ajay Devgn is one of the finest actors in Indian cinema, could only be released in Mumbai, once Mahesh Bhatt had to incorporate certain changes in the script. Mani Ratnam's BOMBAY had met the same fate, and a special screening had to be made for a particular political party so that it could give go- ahead for release of the film. Rahul Dholakia's film PARZANIA could never be released in Gujarat, as there was the perception that it could harm the image of the incumbency. MY NAME IS KHAN was also going to meet the same fate, but it was the assertion of the film going public against moral policing that won the day and the zealots had to back out.
As a matter of fact cinema, one of the most democratic mediums, which provides a visual medium to express and display content of dissent, has off-late become a target of vandalism. With heavy investments made by the cinema hall owners to provide world class experience to the patrons, it indeed is a difficult proposition for them to brazen out against local dissent for display of a particular film, and the authorities continue to be a mute spectator as well.
Those who oppose a cinematic product as they feel that it might hurt their image, if they have attempted wrong doing, should be confident enough to allow the public to arrive at a conclusion, rather than disallow it by imposing undeclared curfew against its display. Cinema is a medium that strives to portray reality by camouflaging it with a finesse of fiction. We being one of the most vibrant democracies in the world, should be mature enough to let the public decide what they want to view or not, rather impose cultural policing from above. Would the authorities listen?