- Article 15, a movie on caste discrimination, was released on Friday
- Protestors have blocked its screening in Patna, Aligarh and Kanpur
- They claim the movie portrays the Brahmin community in bad light
'Article 15', a movie about the caste system in India has run into protests a day after its release, forcing it off theatres in some parts of the country, the film's director-producer has said, opening a fresh frontier in a nationwide debate over free speech.
Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha has appealed for help as tensions and protests rise in various cities. Disruptive mobs are protesting against the film outside cinema halls claiming that the movie portrays the so-called upper caste Brahmin community in bad light.
An organisation called the Brahmin Samaj of India had petitioned the Supreme Court to stop the film's release. The Ayushmann Khurana-starrer was then shown to many organisations, including the Karni Sena, who then issued statements that they have nothing against the movie, Mr Sinha said. Karni Sena had earlier protested against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film 'Padmaavat' saying it defamed a queen from the Rajput community.
Yet, the director says, protests continue in many cities.
Mobs are forcing cinema hall owners to stop the screening of the movie in cities like Patna, Roorkee, Aligarh and Kanpur. The director says he has tried to reach out to the local administration for help but to no avail.
Haridwar's Wave Cinemas have stopped the screening of the movie, the director says. The cinema owner's appeal for police protection was also allegedly turned down by the sub-divisional magistrate.
In Roorkee, the sub-divisional magistrate has also issued a letter saying the film cannot be screened as there can be a law and order situation.
On the day of its release, members of various Brahmin organisations like Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Ekta Parishad, Sarva Brahmin Mahasabha, Parshuram Sarva Kalyan and Brahmin Mahasabha raised slogans against the actors and the producer of the film and tore-off film-posters in Kanpur, police said.
The screening of the film was cancelled in a number of cinema halls on Friday in Kanpur. Heavy police force has been deployed around cinema halls in the state, police said.
The film is inspired by the 2014 Badaun rape case where two teenage girls were gang-raped and murdered. The fringe organisations claim the movie is defaming their community and that they have been protesting against the movie for 15 days.
Article 15 in the Constitution prohibits the discrimination on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. One of the fringe organisations even has problem with the name of film.
"The director has also broken the law by keeping the name of the movie after an article of the constitution. We won't tolerate such dictatorship in India," a member of the Brahmin Sena in Bhopal said.