Why are Hindus tested every time, says HC during hearing of plea for ban on Adipurush film

Lucknow: The Allahabad High Court on Tuesday expressed concern over the way key characters of the epic Ramayana have been depicted in the controversial movie “Adipurush”, saying “Hindus are tolerant but why they are tested every time”.

The Lucknow bench, which was hearing petitions seeking a ban on the film, also issued a notice to the movie’s Hindi dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir after allowing an application for his impleadment.

The bench declined to accept the contention that a disclaimer shown at the start of the film makes it clear it is not the Ramayana.

“When the filmmaker has shown Lord Rama, Devi Sita, Lord Laxman, Lord Hanuman, Ravan, Lanka, etc., how will the disclaimer convince the people at large that the story is not from Ramayana,” the vacation bench of justices Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Shree Prakash Singh said.

It asked Deputy Solicitor General SB Pandey to seek instructions as to whether the central government was contemplating reviewing the certificate granted by the Censor Board (Central Board of Film Certification) for screening the movie.

“Hindus are tolerant but why they are tested every time? When Hindus are civilised, is it correct to suppress them,” the bench said.

It made the oral observations after the petitioner’s lawyer Ranjana Agnihotri said that the movie may “not only affect adversely the sentiments of the people at large, who worship Lord Rama, Devi Sita, Lord Hanuman, etc., but the manner in which the character of Ramayana has been depicted would create serious disharmony in society also”.

The bench added that it is good that the controversy relates to a religion whose followers have not disturbed public order anywhere.

“We should be thankful to them. Some followers went to close the cinema halls but they got only the halls shut down, while they could have done many other things,” it said The petitioner said nothing in the manner shown in the film has been narrated in Valmiki’s Ramayana or Ramcharitmanas by Tulsidas.

“The reasons shown in the application appear to be appropriate, therefore, the impleadment application is allowed. Let Sri Manoj Muntashir @ Manoj Shukla be impleaded as the opposite party no. 15…. Let notices be issued… Steps to be taken within seven days,” the bench said in the order.

“Having regard to the fact that Sri S.B. Pandey has not received complete instructions from the Union of India, more particularly, from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, opposite party no. 1 and Board of Film Certification, opposite party no. 3, he is granted 24 hours’ time to seek complete instructions,” the order said.

“While producing complete instructions, he shall also apprise the Court as to whether opposite party no.1 (ministry) is considering to take appropriate steps in the interest of public at large by invoking its revisional power under Section 6 of the Act, 1952,” the order said.

The court was hearing two PILs filed by Kuldeep Tiwari and Naveen Dhawan.

Adipurush, a retelling of the epic Ramayana, has come under attack from some quarters over its dialogue, colloquial language and representation of some characters.