The Delhi high court on Friday dismissed Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) review petition seeking reconsideration of the single bench’s decision to allow release of the movie Mohalla Assi with ‘A’ certificate.
“Arguments were heard in the writ petition... I am unable to accept the contention of CBFC in this review petition for the reason that the Board had refused to grant certificate and Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) had directed 10 cuts in the film while reserving the right to issue certificate. The order of the FCAT, in view of this court, in so far as petitioner was concerned, was final", Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva said.
CBFC had refused to grant certificate to Mohalla Assi in April 2014, for reasons that “the movie was full of abusive words, derogatory remarks against a particular community, inflammatory speeches, political linkups, sentiments that are hurting for a particular local area, abusive words against women" and that the certification “may hurt the feelings of community, (and create) law and order problem, etc."
FCAT, on appeal, had directed introduction of a disclaimer and 10 cuts, while reserving the right to review the film and reconsider the matter, after such changes were introduced.
Crossword Entertainment, the producer of the film, had approached the high court under writ jurisdiction.
The high court, on 11 December 2017, had directed that Mohalla Assi ‘be certified accordingly as restricted in its exhibition to the adult audience’. The court had quashed nine out of ten cuts mandated by FCAT. The court was of the opinion that when viewed in the overall context of the film, the allegedly objectionable scenes did neither offend sensibility or morality, nor portray obscenity or vulgarity. The court, however, upheld, FCAT’s direction to introduce a disclaimer.
The film is based on a popular Kashinath Singh’s Hindi Novel Kashi Ka Assi. It is stated to be a satire on the globalization of the pilgrimage city Varanasi (Banaras) and the challenges that Varanasi and its culture may face due to sweeping changes brought in by liberalization.