'Submit Script, Seek Permission': MP Home Minister Tells Filmmakers After Bajrang Dal Ruckus

Meanwhile, following an ultimatum from Narottam Mishra, Dabur has withdrawn an ad featuring a same-sex couple celebrating Karva Chauth and tendered an apology.

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New Delhi: A day after Bajrang Dal members ransacked the set of filmmaker Prakash Jha’s web series ‘Ashram’ in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh home minister Narottam Mishra doubled down on filmmakers and content producers.

Mishra said that the state government will formulate “permanent guidelines” for shoots and filmmakers will now need to show the script of the story to the administration before seeking permission, “if they are going to shoot objectionable scenes which hurt the sentiments of any religion.”

He said the state government welcomes filmmakers but they should inform authorities about “objectionable” scenes before seeking permission, and those who have objections to a script or scene must complain to the administration.

Bhopal BJP MP and Malegaon blast accused Pragya Singh Thakur has also said that an outfit headed by her will create a separate department to vet scripts, contents of movies and web series, and if needed will not allow the making of controversial films.

“They (filmmakers) are forcing us to watch movies and take action against them,” Thakur said, adding that seers don’t watch movies but the Bharat Bhakti Akhada (formed by her in February 2019) will set up a separate department to vet scripts of controversial movies before their release.

“I will take action against such persons (those making movies on these subjects) in the Censor Board, she said.

Bajrang Dal activists had, on Sunday evening, vandalised the set of the third season of web series and also threw ink on Jha, accusing him of portraying Hindus in a bad light. Four people were arrested for the ruckus.

The Producers Guild of India and Federation of Western India Cine Employees have both criticised the attack. Director Abbas Tyrewala has penned a powerful note on Facebook, saying, “…[S]oon, there will be too many rules to keep track of. Too many to remember. Too many to know; hell, you’ll be breaking rules you never knew existed.”

Name change demand

Mishra told reporters that he supports the Bajrang Dal’s demand to change the name of the web series from ‘Ashram’.

“I also support this. Why is the web series named Ashram? They will understand (the consequences) if they name it (web series or stories) after others’ (religion)? We consider the ransacking as wrong. Four persons were arrested and further legal steps will be taken. But, Jha saheb (Prakash Jha), think about your mistakes too,” Mishra said.

Later, Mishra tweeted, “In the name of the web series, an attempt is being made to deliberately target Hinduism for a long time. Considering the spirit of the majority society, Prakash Jha should consider changing the name of his web series Ashram.

Notably, the series is on its third season and it is curious why the group and Mishra had found no reason to object to the name earlier.

Dabur withdraws ad

Mishra had earlier directed the state police chief to ask Dabur India to withdraw an “objectionable” beauty product advertisement showing two women celebrating the Karva Chauth festival and take legal steps if the ad is not taken back by the consumer goods maker.

A product of Dabur India Limited had showed a same-sex couple celebrating Karva Chauth. The ad had also faced criticism from quarters who had questioned the necessity to depict a same-sex couple as observing a ritual which was patriarchal.

In the aftermath of Mishra’s ultimatum, Dabur withdrew its ad and apologised twice on social media.