Vidya Balan in 'Begum Jaan'
Producer Mahesh Bhatt reacts to Pak censors rejecting Begum Jaan’s release across border
Mohar Basu (MID-DAY; April 13, 2017)

Close on the heels of Taapsee Pannu-starrer Naam Shabana’s ban in Pakistan, Begum Jaan has failed to secure a theatrical release in the neighbouring country over objections to the theme — Partition.

Speaking to us from Delhi, producer Mahesh Bhatt says, “I was told by my distributor that Pakistan, as a policy, does not permit the import of films dealing with the issue of Partition. I requested the key officer of the Pakistan censor board to at least view the film and then take a decision. I was assured they would look into the matter. Sadly, I have not heard from them since. My distributor informs me that his office has been intimated that Begum Jaan won’t be imported into Pakistan.”

Naturally heartbroken, he adds, “I did not look at Pakistan just as a market to sell my wares. Yes, when Begum Jaan was not viewed by their Censor Board, I was ridiculed by some of my close associates. That did hurt.”

The film is a remake of 2015 Bengali film Rajakahini. Director Srijit Mukherji says the irony is amusing. “It is the rule of someone’s land, which must be respected. Unfortunately, the common thread binding these two nations is the history and Partition is the integral tragedy connecting us. All the hatred can be traced back to it. Understanding and analysing it from a human view would help but it’s a pity they don’t want to. They are touchy and sensitive about this issue,” says Mukherji.

Mahesh Bhatt