Supreme Court Halts Release of “Hamare Baarah”

High Court to Decide Merits of the Case; Screening Suspended Until Then.

Screening Suspended Over Allegations of Offensiveness Towards Islamic Faith

The Supreme Court on Thursday, June 13, suspended the screening of the film “Hamare Baarah” until the Bombay High Court resolves the case regarding its release. Originally set to release on June 14, the film has been accused of being derogatory towards the Islamic faith and married Muslim women in India. A vacation bench of Justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta issued the suspension in response to a plea challenging the Bombay High Court’s earlier decision to permit the film’s release.

“Until disposal of the petition before the High Court, screening of the movie in question shall remain suspended,” the bench ordered, disposing of the petition. The judges mentioned that after watching the teaser, they found it offensive. Justice Mehta remarked, “Today morning we have seen the teaser. It is as such with all those objectionable materials. The teaser is available on YouTube.”

Justice Nath supported this view, noting that the High Court’s interim order had stayed the film’s release due to the offensive content. The initial petition, filed by Azhar Basha Tamboli against the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), sought to revoke the film’s certification and prevent its release. Tamboli alleged that the film’s trailer violated the Cinematograph Act, 1952, and portrayed married Muslim women negatively, misinterpreting a verse from the Quran.

The CBFC contended that the film had been certified after due process and that objectionable scenes were removed. However, the High Court initially found merit in the petitioner’s claims and restrained the film’s release, later directing a 3-member review committee to evaluate the film. When the committee failed to provide comments in time, the court allowed the film’s release after certain dialogues were voluntarily deleted by the filmmakers.

Dissatisfied with this decision, the petitioner approached the Supreme Court. During the hearing, Advocate Fauzia Shakil argued that the High Court erred in involving the CBFC, an interested party. Justice Mehta acknowledged this concern and agreed with the petitioner.

Advocate Manish Srivastava, representing the respondents, argued that the film had a valid CBFC certification and that the controversial teaser had been removed. Ultimately, the Supreme Court left it to the High Court to decide the case’s merits and suspended the film’s screening until then, allowing the petitioner to raise objections regarding the committee’s constitution before the High Court.

Anu Kapoor’s Statement: In a video statement, Anu Kapoor, an actor in “Hamare Baarah,” expressed concerns about the threats he and his crew members have received since the teaser was released. He emphasized the artistic integrity of the film and its intention to provoke thoughtful discussion rather than offend. Kapoor appealed for understanding and requested that the film be judged on its full content rather than snippets. He stated, “We have received several threats over the past few days, which have caused distress among the crew. Our intention was never to hurt anyone’s sentiments, but to present a narrative that fosters discussion and understanding. We request everyone to view the film in its entirety before forming an opinion.”

Casting of the Movie:

  • Director: Kamal Chandra
  • Writer: Rajan Agarwal
  • Stars: Ashwini Kalsekar, Annu Kapoor, Paritosh Tripathi

The Supreme Court emphasized that both parties must cooperate fully and avoid seeking adjournments in the main petition’s disposal. Although a request was made for the High Court to resolve the case within a week, the Supreme Court refrained from issuing such a directive, with Justice Mehta commenting, “We can only request the High Court; we are not a supervisory authority.”

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