Nikhil Advani on Satyameva Jayate controversy: We're not naive to hurt sentiments
Satyameva Jayate producer Nikkhil Advani expresses relief as revised cut of John Abraham's self-flagellation scene finally gets Shia community nod
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; August 10, 2018)

Though the bravado he'd displayed while filming it was notable, a self-flagellation scene in Satyameva Jayate featuring leading man John Abraham stroked controversy with members of the Shia community. Ten days after the Telangana State Bharatiya Janata Party had protested against the makers of the Nikkhil Advani-produced film for wrongly depicting Matam (self-flagellation) and denigrating its rituals, a revised cut has now received their approval.

Nikkhil Advani
Advani tells mid-day that his team had taken into account the reservations expressed by the community last month, and showcased the revisited sequence to select members recently. "We pride ourselves on being responsible filmmakers. So, we decided to connect with representatives of the community after we received complaints about the concerned scene. A few leaders came together to watch the amended sequence, and have approved of it."

In July, a case was registered with the Dabeerpura police against the film following complaints lodged by BJP Minority Morcha's city general secretary. Of the reservations expressed by the community, Advani says that the members objected to the whip used by Abraham to conduct self-flagellation, following which he is seen using it in an action sequence. Displeasure was also expressed about the fact that, during a fight scene, Abraham's opponent is seen falling over a handi, a vessel considered sacred by the community, given that they cook devotional offerings in it. "We weren't aware of these details, and so, decided to remove that sequence to eliminate any room for objection," the producer says.

Advani reveals that the new version also includes eliminations that the Censor Board had demanded. "They had requested for certain portions to be edited. We collated both the changes and showed the final cut to the leaders. They are happy to see that we paid heed to them, and involved their inputs in the edit that the audience will watch." On his part, Advani is happy that the revision will not steal from the narrative. "It won't make a big difference to the film. We can't be naive and hurt people's sentiments. It was on us to resolve the issue, and we were happy to do so."