Teaser is so offensive: SC halts release of film 'Hamare Baarah'

Supreme Court orders the film's screening to be suspended until the petition challenging its certification is disposed of

Film poster of Hamare Baarah (source: social media)
Film poster of Hamare Baarah (source: social media)

NH Digital

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the screening of Annu Kapoor’s Hamare Baarah — scheduled to be released on 14 June — after taking note of allegations that the film was derogatory to the Islamic faith and married Muslim women.

A vacation bench of justices Vikram Nath and Sandeep Mehta ordered that the screening of the film shall remain suspended until the disposal of the petition challenging the its certification.

"We request the High Court to dispose of the plea expeditiously," the SC said while halting the screening of the movie, which has already been banned in Karnataka.

The court passed the order after hearing a petition challenging Bombay High Court's refusal to stay the film's release. Representing the petitioner, advocate Fauzia Shakil stated that the high court had directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to form a committee to screen the film.

During the hearing, Shakil said the high court erred in asking the CBFC to appoint a committee, as it was an interested party. Agreeing with the counsel, justice Mehta noted that the petitioner had raised contentions against the CBFC and it was clearly an interested party.

Representing the respondents, advocate Manish Srivastava said the filmmakers had a right to release the film, as there was a CBFC certification in place.

However, when the counsel for the filmmaker said all objectionable scenes had been removed from the teasers, the SC rejected the claim. “We saw the teaser today morning and all scenes are there. The teaser is available on YouTube," justice Mehta said. The petitioner alleged that the film, which was earlier set to release on 7 June, was in contravention of the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952, and the rules and guidelines associated with it.

When counsel for the film's makers said he would have to incur losses on account of the stay order, the court said, "If the teaser is so offensive then what about the whole movie... Prima facie it seems you have failed since you yourself deleted the scenes from the teaser."

The high court had earlier restrained the filmmaker from releasing the film until 14 June. A day later, it ordered the CBFC to form a panel of three individuals, including at least one Muslim member, to view the movie.

The Supreme Court left it to the HC to decide the case on merit and stayed the screening of the film till such time. In addition, the petitioner was given liberty to raise the objection regarding constitution of the committee by the CBFC before the high court.

According to the case in the high court, the film portrays married Muslim women as having no independent rights as individuals in society owing to 'Aayat 223', a verse in the Quran. It was stated that despite modifications directed to be carried out prior to the release of the film, the trailer did not contain any disclaimer or reference to the certification granted by the CBFC.

A writ petition was filed before Bombay High Court by petitioner Azhar Basha Tamboli against the CBFC, seeking to revoke the certification granted to the film and halting its release.

The CBFC argued that certification was granted after following all necessary procedures, and claimed that the objectionable scenes and dialogues had been deleted, and the trailers of the film released on YouTube and BookMyShow (referred to by the petitioner) were not certified trailers.

Bombay High Court at first found a prima facie case in favour of the petitioner, and restrained the respondents from releasing the film in the public domain until 14 June.

The committee failed to give its comments and instead, sought time to file a detailed response. Then the court permitted the release of the film, taking into account the filmmakers' voluntariness to delete certain contentious dialogues without prejudice to their rights and contentions.

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