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Indira Gandhi admitted emergency was wrong: filmmaker


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Filmmaker Prakash Jha Thursday stood firmly by his refusal to make any "politically correct" changes in his film on socialist messiah Jayaprakash Narayan, stating it was up to the government to "mutilate" it.

Jha, who has always courted controversy with his films centred on political and social issues, said he would wait to see the fate of his film before taking further recourse.

"I have delivered the film and they are the owners of it now," Jha told IANS. "They can shelve it, ban it or mutilate it. Let us see what they do to it."

In a letter, the state-owned broadcaster Prasar Bharati asked Jha to make several changes in the film, a bio-picture on then political stalwart Jayaprakash Narayan, who formed an opposition front against then prime minister Indira Gandhi and her repressive emergency rule of 1975. Indira Gandhi is the mother-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Indira Gandhi had at the time imprisoned scores of political opponents and imposed severe curbs on the media, a dark period in India's democratic history that Congress has still to live down.

Plainly disgusted with Prasar Bharti chief executive K.S. Sarma's letter seeking changes and cuts in the film, Jha said: "It is so unfortunate that when Indira Gandhi admitted the Emergency was wrong, Sonia Gandhi admitted it was wrong and now (Sonia's son and MP) Rahul Gandhi has said it was wrong, some bureaucrats does not think it was wrong."

The film, commissioned by the department of culture and made at a cost of Rs.9 million, was to be shown on the Oct 11 birth anniversary of Jayaprakash Narayan.

Jha pointed out that when he submitted the film in March, it was all cleared and ready to be aired in October. "Six months later, there is a new regime and everything has changed."

The film had been cleared when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - whose top leaders were among the victims of the emergency rule - was still in power in New Delhi. The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was unseated by a Congress-led regime in May.

The Prasar Bharati told Jha that the latter half of the film "does not portray a balanced presentation of events of those times, and in view of the sensitivities involved the programme needs modifications".

It had asked Jha to give his opinion for final approval before Nov 1.

"The need to impose Emergency and counterpoint should also be brought out," said the board, asking to balance opinionated views with views from all political shades.

It said the map of India shown in the beginning did not show the geographical boundaries of undivided India correctly, and asked that slogans against Indira Gandhi and remarks against her son Sanjay Gandhi be edited.

The letter also suggested that Jha roped in J.K. Jain, Jayaprakash Narayan's personal physician who joined the Congress in March, to "enhance our understanding".

Regretting the uncalled for controversy, Jha said: "I don't have to make any changes - it is up to them. To the best of my creative conscience, I have documented history. If they do not have the guts to show it, it is their problem."


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