Is media censorship in films and TV unavoidable?

Anupam Kher's 'The Accidental Prime Minister' and Hasan Minhaj's 'Patriot Act' landed themselves in hot water recently

By Shaheera Anwar

Films and TV are some of the biggest sources of entertainment to people worldwide. However, with the course of time, a lot of content that is shown to audiences has changed. Film-makers are moving towards creating biopics or socially-relevant projects such as Sanju and Padman, which were released last year. Likewise, Bollywood was going to kick start 2019 with a much-awaited biopic on former Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh.


Titled The Accidental Prime Minister, the film stars Anupam Kher as the iconic figure. The trailer which released in late December last year was lauded by many. However, a few days later, fans from India took to Twitter to share that the trailer, which was available on YouTube, cannot be viewed in some parts of the country. Lead actor Kher took notice of their concern and shared, “I am getting messages and calls that in parts of our country if you type, trailer of The Accidental Prime Minister, it is either not appearing or at the 50th position. We were trending at No.1 yesterday. Please help.”

While the 63-year-old star hasn’t received a response yet, he is being sued by lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha who stated that the film tarnishes the image of reputed people. Ojha continued that Kher and Akshay Khanna, who essays Singh’s press advisor Sanjaya Baru, have tainted their images with how they have portrayed the characters. He added, “It hurt me and many others,” and will be having the court hearing on January 8.


This is not the first time people have expressed their discontent towards films. Last year, Sanju based on the life of Bollywood star Sanjay Dutt, also came under the radar. Many said that the film glorified the controversial actor and wasn’t factually correct. Prior to that, Padmaavat was also under fire after some protested against it, claiming it hurt religious sentiments, due to which the release of the film was delayed. But India is not the only country where films face trouble.


Earlier this week, an episode of Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj’s Netflix show, Patriot Act was banned from viewing in Saudi Arabia. In the episode, Minhaj criticised the country over the death of a journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul and it’s war against Yemen. Netflix then pulled the episode off for the Saudi audience over the country’s anti-cyber crime laws, reported The Financial Times. That too sparked an outrage that the streaming giant was prioritising profit over principles.


Even Pakistan has banned various films in the recent past, which included the likes of Padman, Veere Di Wedding and Manto. According to officials, the films had bold and vulgar content which was against the country’s values.

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