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Sharmila accused of anti-Marathi bias

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Mumbai (UNI): Marathi filmmaker Sharad Bandsode, whose film Mumbai Amchich (Mumbai is Ours) has been denied a Censor certificate, accused Censor Board chief Sharmila Tagore of stalling the release of the film due to an ''anti-Marathi'' bias.

Talking to reporters after a special screening of the film, Mr Bandsode, writer, director and producer of the movie, claimed that a seven-member committee of the Censor Board had watched the film and some of them suggested cuts after watching the film. They opined that the film be allowed for release. But Ms Tagore refused permission for the film without watching it and threatened to quit her post if she was pressurised to pass the film, he claimed.

Lashing out at the functioning of the Censor Board and its Ms Tagore, Mr Bandsode said the discretionary powers bestowed on the autonomous body were being misused.

Citing the reasons for refusal of censor certificate to the film, Ms Tagore said the film was anti-non Maharashtrians and could provoke a law and order problem.

Bandsode said he was willing to make neccessary changes and cuts as suggested by the Board, but claimed that Ms Tagore refused to relent and banned the film.

''Ms Tagore had initially agreed to watch the film before passing a final order. But, later she decided against seeing the movie,'' he charged.

The film deals with the influx of migrants from other states, especially Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, into Mumbai and how the local Marathi-speaking perople from Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra were deprived of their rights. The protagonist, a police officer played by the filmmaker himself, forms a group with a mission called 'Mumbai Amchich'. The film portrays how the police officer deals with the situation. Similarly, even though the film does not name politicians, political parties and their ideologies, the depiction is made in such a manner that the viewer can identify them properly.

Apart from Bandsode, the star cast includes Padmini Kolhapure, Mohan Joshi and Upendra Limaye among others.

''Banning of the film which highlights a crucial issue concerning problems of Mumbai is an attempt to sabotage the voice of Marathi speaking people,''he alleged.

Mr Bansode said he began shooting for the film in Dec last year and completed it in April 2006. '' I submitted the film to the Censor Board for clearance in August 2006. On December 13, I received a letter from the Board that my film has been rejected. I will now approach the Censor Board Tribunal and later the High Court, if necessary, to get justice,'' he said and added that he was a practising lawyer from Solapur and had nothing to do with any political party.

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