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Bombay HC asks board to reconsider certification of Bhansalis film

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MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the appellate tribunal of the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) to reconsider the U/A certification given to Sanjay Leela Bhansali's recently released film, Goliyon Ki Rasleela - Ramleela.

An observation was made by the Division Bench of Justices V M Kanade and M S Sonak that the CBFC did not apply its mind while granting certification to the film. The court was acting on a petition filed by Sandeep Shukla, a member of the Congress and vice-president of Shree Maharashtra Ramleela Mandal. The mandal organises Ramleela every year during Navratri at Azad Maidan. Shukla claimed that the film's title is misleading and the contents have hurt the religious sentiments of followers of Hindu deity Ram and Hanuman.

The court asked the CBFC to consider whether the guidelines of the Cinematograph Act were followed before granting certification to the movie. "Utmost care has to be taken by the board in such cases and ensure that the guidelines are followed and that there are no violations," said the court.

Although the board tried to convey to the court that the guidelines were followed in their view, the judges were not satisfied and said that there has been non-application of mind. The judges said that the

board did not apply its mind while granting certification to Bhansali’s movie. They also noted that the CBFC has to be careful in the future while issuing certification to movies.

The petition was filed against director and producer of the movie Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the Production Company, Eros International Media Limited and the CBFC, which granted the film a U/A certificate on 1 November. The court also directed the CBFC to see if any content of the movie or its title has violated any fundamental rights of citizens as alleged by the petitioner and disposed of the petition.

According to the petition, the term ‘Ramleela’ has been historically associated with the plays depicting the life of Ram. Since the movie is based on a love story and not on the conventional meaning attributed to ‘Ramleela’, the petitioners claimed that the producers are "deliberately and intentionally" using the term for commercial success.

"The commercial exploitation of the word ‘Ramleela’ amounts to infringement. The defendants cannot be allowed to misuse the same for their commercial venture," the petition stated.

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