Supreme Court declines to lift stay on release of PM Modi biopic

  • The film ‘PM Narendra Modi’ was scheduled to release on 11 April, coinciding with the start of the Lok Sabha elections
  • On 10 April, the Election Commission stayed the release of the biopic, citing violation of the model code of conduct

New Delhi: Saying it “won’t interfere" with an Election Commission (EC) order banning a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi until 19 May, the Supreme Court on Friday refused to lift the stay on the release of the movie starring Vivek Oberoi.

A bench headed by chief justice Ranjan Gogoi said it was not inclined to entertain the application filed by producers of the biopic challenging the EC's order.

The film ‘PM Narendra Modi’ was scheduled to release on 11 April, coinciding with the start of the Lok Sabha elections in the country. However, on 10 April, the Election Commission stayed the release of the biopic, citing violation of the model code of conduct. The EC in its order had said that any biopic made for any political entity that had the potential to disturb the level-playing field during the elections should not be displayed in the electronic media.

Subsequently, the producers of the film approached the Supreme Court on 17 April. Appearing for the producers, senior advocate Mukul Rohtagi had said the decision of the Election Commission was arbitrary since they had not watched the movie, but had formed an opinion merely by watching its trailer.

The Supreme Court bench had then passed an order observing the argument made by Mukul Rohtagi and directed the Election Commission to watch the movie and thereafter consider the matter of public screening of the movie once again. The Election Commission was asked to submit its view to the apex court by 22 April in a sealed cover.

The matter was taken up for hearing today.

The EC submitted that the movie was more than a biography is for it clearly seems to be a ‘hagiography’ (a biography that treats its subject with undue reverence). It also said that the biopic "produces a political environment where an individual acquired cult status. The construct of this 135-minute movie is unabashedly uni-dimensional, which puts an individual on a higher pedestal through the use of specific symbols, slogans and scenes. It ends up eulogizing an individual, giving him a saintly status". It also shows the major Opposition party in poor light.

The counsel appearing for the producers of the movie pleaded for at least the trailer to be allowed since the dialogues and scenes being disputed by the Election Commission are not present in the trailer. The said request was not allowed.

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