Neeraj Pandey took to Twitter to thank the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the Ministry of Defense for clearing his upcoming film, Aiyaary, for a February 16 release.
There have been several roadblocks on the way to D-day for Neeraj. Recently, after viewing the film, the CBFC asked for it to be screened for officials of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) who after watching it last Saturday asked for certain changes. It was only after these were incorporated that the film was greenlit with a ‘U/A’ certificate.
The censors insisted on the MOD seeing the espionage thriller not because Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee play army officers in it but because the film, which tackles corruption, also rakes up the Adarsh Housing scam.
The Adarsh Housing Society was a posh, 31-storey building built on prime real estate in Colaba for war widows and Defence personnel. Over several years, politicians, bureaucrats, and military officers allegedly conspired with officials to subvert rules concerning land ownership, zoning, floor space index and membership to grab flats in this cooperative society which was public property at below-market rates. The scam was unearthed in November 2010 leading to the resignation of the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra, Ashok Chavan. In January 2011, the state government set up a two-member judicial commission to inquire into the matter which, after deposing 182 witnesses over two years, submitted its final report in April 2013. It highlighted 25 illegal allotments, including 22 purchases made by proxy, and the role played by four former Chief Ministers, including Ashok Chavan, Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde and Shivajirao Nilangekar Patil, two former urban development ministers, Rajesh Tope and Sunil Tatkare, and 12 top bureaucrats for various illegal acts. The CBI, Income Tax Department and Enforcement Directorate are investigating the allegations.
In Aiyaary, there are references by Sidharth and Pooja Chopra’s characters to a plot in Mumbai’s Colaba. Even Naseeruddin Shah who plays a watchman, alludes to this particular plot, saying that the building being constructed was meant for the widows of martyred soldiers. “Kha jayenge, neta aur neta ke chamche,” his character sighs, alluding to the Adarsh scam. Naseer plays an important cameo in the film and in the trailer is heard shouting as he is being taken away, “Gareeb aadmi ko ungli nahin karne ka, saab.”
A source close to the development reiterated that the film takes the lid off many scams, the Adarsh scam being one of them. “It is integral to the plot,” the source added. When quizzed on the multiple changes reportedly asked for by the MoD, the source said, “The filmmakers were glad they didn’t ask for too many, there were just four minor changes which were carried out to everyone’s satisfaction.”
Aiyaary is touted to be an espionage thriller, backed by a crisp and intriguing storyline.
Starring Manoj Bajpayee and Sidharth Malhotra as the mentor and protege, ‘Aiyaary’ also stars Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Rakul Preet Singh, Pooja Chopra in pivotal roles.