‘Ram Leela’ banned in Uttar Pradesh

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Goliyon Ki Rasleela : Ram Leela’ is still in news even after the release for the wrong reason. The movie was released on 15th November. But recently the Lucknow bench of Allahabad High Court has imposed a ban on the screening of the movie in Utter Pradesh. However, the order says that the movie can be screened without using the title ‘Ram Leela’ or ‘Rasleela’.

The bench that passed the order comprised of Justices Devi Prasad Singh and Ashok Pal Singh. The petition was filed by C/M Shri Maryada Purshottam Bhagwan Ramleela Committee of Bahraich.This committee organizes ‘Ram Leela’ every year on the occasion of Dussehra in Bahraich.

IP Singh, Chief Standing Council of Utter Pradesh government said, “The court has banned the movie in UP and has directed the state government to ensure compliance of the ban.”

According to petitioner’s lawyer Rajieu Kumar Tripathi, ‘Ram Leela’ relates to thousand years of Indian civilization. He argued that ‘Ram Leela’ connects to the life of Shri Ram and ‘Ram Leela’ is organized every year in different parts of the country and depicts the life of lord Ram. Similarly the word ‘Rasleela’ relates to the dance of Shri Krishna.

The counsel of the petitioner also told the court that United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) recognizes ‘Ram Leela’ as the cultural heritage of India which connects with the re-enactment of life of Shri Ram.

The counsel further also argued that according to the Guidelines for Certification of Films for Public Exhibition, words or visuals which promote communal, anti-scientific, anti-national and obscurantist attitudes are not to be presented. 

The court then observed that it was the mere use of word ‘Ram Leela’ that hurt the emotions of people in India and abroad.

The bench said, “The meaning assigned to Ram-Leela and Rasleela in Encyclopaedia Britannica is a well researched meaning and prima facie no film-maker has the right to use the title, 'Ram Leela, Raas Leela or alike works which are used in Indian since ages for a particular purpose. Meaning assigned to a particular word by the people since thousand years of civilization cannot be given a different meaning by film makers. Obviously, use of film for a different purpose as a measure of cheap popularity or promotion is not permissible since it hurts sentiments of the people.”

It further added, “As an interim measure, we direct the state of UP to stop display of film in the State of UP, titled ‘Goliyon ki Raasleela-Ram Leela’ forthwith. It shall be open for the respondents to display the film in the state of UP without using the title Ram-Leela and Raas Leela.”