MUMBAI: Hours after its release on Friday, Ajai Sinha’s film on honour killing Khap, was banned in theatres across Punjab and Haryana.
Earlier during the day the film could not get a proper release in Haryana. It opened for limited screening in three cities. The rest of Haryana’s exhibitors stayed away from Khap for fear of retaliation from sections of Haryana’s protestors who have been campaigning to keep the film out.
But by evening all the theatres in Punjab and Haryana decided to boycott the film.
Sinha tells Businessofcinema.com, “The exhibitors in Haryana and Punjab told me they were pressurised from the top to stop the screening. My film couldn’t be released in most of Haryana. It opened only in Sonepat, Patiala and Kurukshetra. The rest of the exhibitors had been assured they’d be provided security. But they couldn’t risk it.”
Sinha, who admits he has been receiving threatening calls, adds. “I’ve stopped answering unknown numbers. There have been a number of unpleasant calls.”
The director and the cast and crew of the film on honour killing in Haryana are under threat. Apparently Sinha, actor Om Puri and others in the film Khap have all been served up stern “warnings” (read: threat) from self-appointed moral groups in Haryana in the eventuality of the film being released.
However, Sinha is undeterred. “My film has been passed by the censor board without a single cut. The board members praised the film’s theme in one voice.If the country’s censors have no objection to Khap why should we take the objections from self-appointed localised moral police groups seriously? Let them do what they can.”
The issue of honour killing whereby village communities order death for young people from within the same community caste of family lineage who ‘dare’ to fall in love, has troubled Ajai Sinha for years. “The khap rules were conceived 200 years ago. How and why are they still applicable? Personally if my child announces that he or she wants to marry a cousin, I’d object. But I wouldn’t kill my child for the same. I’ve criticised the barbarism of the khap customs. If that is a problem for some people then I can’t help it. It isn’t my intention to malign anyone.”
Khap is not the first Hindi film about honour killing. Priyadarshan’s recent Aakrosh also went into the same territory.
Sinha disagrees. “I saw Aakrosh. It had very little to do with honour killing. More to do with the Hollywood film Mississippi Burning. Taking a broader view, all our love stories from Mughal-e-Azam to Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak is about honour killing. That isn’t the kind of honour killing we’re talking about in Khap. Maybe that is why we are now under the radical radar,” he added.