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Centre mulls anticipatory ban law

A forward-thinking, proactive legal measure to help curb the menace of ‘offending films’ even before they are made

New Delhi, Nov 22: Finally some good seems to have emerged out of the fracas over Padmavati, a film so odious with offensive content that many people are able to outrage even without having seen it.

Padmavati has been banned by a few States (Rajasthan, MP, UP) on the grounds that it features Ranveer Singh. No, that would have been pretty reasonable. The film has been banned in these States, despite the minor matter that the film has not even been released and no protesting group has seen it.

Anyway, according to highly-placed sources in the Law Ministry, a draft law has been prepared to incorporate in the CrPC a provision for anticipatory ban on movies or any work of art even before they are made so that a Padmavati-like unfortunate situation does not arise.

The Law Ministry is expected to add teeth to Section 438 of CrPC, which deals with anticipatory bail, and come with a Constitutional provision to hand anticipatory ban on any movie, actually any idea, even before that idea is crsytallised into any form of art.

Sources said it is obvious that the biggest contributor to the Padmavati fiasco is Padmavati.

“If Sanjay Leela Bhansali had not made Padmavati in the first place, it is inconceivable that there would have been any protest of the nature that we are seeing now over Padmavati,” the sources said and added: “so the protests are only the symptoms, the real problem, as it should be apparent to anyone with a thinking brain, is Padmavati“.

The filmmaker in this case made a regrettable decision. But it ensued because there is nothing in law that prevents him or other artists even before they get down to the starting blocks, the sources pointed out.

Ergo, the new law, the sources succinctly said.  The proposed law will cover not only to-be-offensive films but also to-be-offensive books, to-be-offensive paintings, to-be-offensive any damn idea. This is an omnibus law.  “Ideas are the problem. We will, as a responsible government, will try to come down on them totally”.

So in a proactive measure — something which this government is rightfully famous for (it banned money — demonetisation — because it clearly figured it out that the best way to tackle black money is by removing money. A lesser government would have banned the use of word ‘black’), the government has put in circulation a draft law that will help to-be-aggrieved groups to get an ‘anticipatory ban’ even before anyone thinks of making any movie or anything out of a subject or a person.

To give you some practical examples, Shiv Sena, which is filled with a lot of sensitive individuals, can get an anticipatory ban on anyone in general , or Ashutosh Gowariker in particular, wanting to make a film on Chatrapathi Sivaji. (While at it, we also recommend a retrospective ban on Sarath Kumar’s Chatrapthi).

The Dravidian parties wouldn’t want a film that would upset their sentiments on Periyar or Annadurai. A director like Maniratnam may harbour plans for making some movie on the subject. But an anticipatory ban will prevent him from the trouble of even thinking of such an idea. More importantly, it will prevent the trouble of viewers from having to watch such a movie from him.

As you can see, every political group in India has a list of ‘untouchables’, and they wouldn’t want others to deviate from the view that they (political groups) have on them. It is a fair expectation in a thriving democracy.

And these people can secure anticipatory ban on their pet subjects so that the nation doesn’t have to waste its time on pointless topics like freedom of expression and creative licence. “See the Padmavati controversy has been a huge distraction and people have been sidetracked from other serious issues confronting the nation like Ed Sheeran’s visit to Mumbai”.

Also, forget about touchy political groups or ones that political groups see as potential votebanks, the real beneficiary of this forward-thinking advance ban is the common person on the street. Any individual or a group can come together and get a ban on films that Karan Johar or Madhur Bhandarkar may be trying to think up at this moment.

“Just imagine this. A Karan Johar or Madhur Bhandarkar film can be stopped even before their making. What better can come out of any law,” the sources added.