Two years after Bollywood action comedy “Chandni Chowk to China” was banned in Nepal, now it’s the turn of Amir Khan’s newest release “Delhi Belly” to land in the latest controversy in the Himalayan republic with the government Sunday stopping the film from being screened in Nepal.
The crackdown came after Nepal’s Film Censor Board complained to the authorities that the Abhinay Deo-directed film was full of obscene dialogues and the distributor of the film in Nepal had failed to heed the censors’ directive that the objectionable bits be removed before screening it in Nepal’s theatres.
Obeying orders from the Kathmandu district administration, police Sunday evening raided the Gopirkishna multiplex in Kathmandu, seizing prints of the film and stopping all screenings till the recommended cuts were effected.
The owner of the multiplex, Uddhav Poudel, is one of the leading producers in the Nepali film industry as well as owner of Nepal’s only film channel. Poudel is also the distributor of the Hindi film in Nepal with all major theatres in the capital screening it since last Friday.
“I saw parts of the film and was wondering how it could have used such abusive language,” said Nakim Uddin, whose QFX Cinemas owns three of the best multiplexes in the capital. “However, the film received good reviews in Nepal and we were hoping to run it as long as it would.”
The entrepreneur said the problem was mostly technical.
“`Delhi Belly’ was being screened in both the print format and (the more sophisticated) digital format,” he said. “While it is easy to effect the cuts in the print version, it takes time to incorporate them in the digital version since Nepal doesn’t have the technical facilities and they have to be sent back to India.”
Three multiplexes which were running the print version – Gopikrishna, Guna Cinema and Big Cinemas – have got the revised prints with the cuts suggested by the censors and were back to screening the film, he said.
However, his own theatres and others using the digital technology would have to wait. Nakim Uddin was optimistic that the censored version would be available from the evening.
In 2009, Nepal banned the Akshay Kumar-starrer Bollywood kungfu comedy “Chandni Chowk to China” after an erroneous claim in the movie that the Buddha was born in India.
The founder of Buddhism was born in southern Nepal and the narrative in the film caused public protests in Nepal, making the then Maoist government decide to ban it.
In 2007, Ram Gopal Verma’s much-hyped remake of the Bollywood classic “Sholay”, called “Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag”, came under censors’ fire, especially for a sizzling dance by Bollywood star Urmila Matondkar, that was labelled vulgar.
The greatest furore ever triggered by a Bollywood film in Nepal was in 2000 when Bollywood heartthrob Hrithik Roshan’s “Mission Kashmir” was banned in Nepal after a section of the Nepali media wrongly attributed anti-Nepal sentiments to him.
It whipped up anti-India and Bollywood sentiments and triggered attacks on Indian businesses in Nepal, resulting in the death of two people. Subsequently, Nepal’s government banned all Hrithik Roshan films in Nepal for some time to calm down public hysteria.