Bhansali's 'Ram Leela' in legal trouble

Indian cinema has always been a soft target for social and religious activists. The scope and dimension of Indian cinema, its multi facet subject makes it vulnerable to criticism from different corners.

A survey of Indian cinema shows that as early as in 1959 a Bengali film, ‘Neel AkasherNeechay’ directed by the renowned Mrinal Sen was temporarily banned due to its political overtones.

In 2005 the film ‘Water’ written by Anurag Kashyap  and directed by Deepa Mehta had to face the anger of about 2000 protesters  because  they believed was a deliberate attempt to negatively portray the life of Hindu widows in Benaras.

Karan Johar directed romantic comedy film ‘Student of the Year’ released in 2012, had complaints lodged against it for allegedly depicting Radha in an improper way.

‘Oh my God’, a comedy-satire, directed by Umesh Sukhla , with Akshay Kumar donning the role of Lord Krishna,  had   an FIR lodged against it in Ajmer city for intentionally  wronging the Hindu sentiment.

The latest film to come under legal hammer for hurting the religious feelings of the Hindus is Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Ram Leela’. A PIL has been filed by lawyer Siddhrajsinh Chudasama on the ground that it has humiliated the women of the Darbar community. According to the petitioner, the film has used abusive language and indecent gestures unbecoming of any women. Such foul language may also provoke enmity between the Rabri and the Darbar community. He also added that Ramleela and Rasleela are viewed as religious literature and the film is 'hurting the sentiments of Hindus and promoting vulgarity'.

Dr Nutan Thakur Secretary of India’s Institute of research and Documentation in Social Science has filed a complaint against the film citing that the title of the film does not do justice to Ramlila as is generally understood. On the contrary it is a canvas of intimate scenes between Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukon which is spiced up with abusive language and violence.

The director has been very open to these criticisms. He has made it clear that ‘Ram Leela’ is not in any way a part of the Ramayana.  It is more a re-imaging of Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. That said Bhansali has also added that the film is his way of paying a tribute to his mother Leela whose name he so proudly carries.

‘Ram Leela’ is scheduled for release on 15th November 2013.