Dubai: Indian director Rahul Dholakia’s film Lamhaa, a political drama based in strife-torn Kashmir, has been banned in the UAE due to “objectionable content”, local distributor Al Mansoor Video has confirmed.
A representative at Al Mansoor Video added that the film, starring Sanjay Dutt and Bipasha Basu, and scheduled to have released on Thursday in the country, has not received a clearance certificate from the UAE Censor Board and the movie has been pulled from all the cinemas in the UAE.
The film has also been pulled from cinemas all across the region, according to media reports.
The film also stars Shenaz Patel, Yashpal Sharma, Vipin Sharma, Kunal Kapoor and Aman Verma amongst others.
The National Media Council in the UAE confirmed the ban on Lamhaa to Gulf News.
Following the development, lead actor Sanjay Dutt tweeted: "First the premiere of Lamhaa was not allowed in Kashmir. Now the Middle East puts a ban on the release of the film in their countries.”
Bipasha Basu, who plays a militant in the film, said in her tweet: "Sadly the people of Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman will not be able to watch it.”
Film director Rahul Dholakia told Gulf News over the phone from Mumbai: “I can’t believe that Lamhaa has been banned in the Middle East. I have made an honest film about Kashmiris. This entire banning has come as a shock to us.”
Producer Bunty Walia added that the ban will cost the film dearly. “I have seen the film and it speaks the truth. And it’s unfortunate that a movie which got a clearance from the Indian Censor Board is not being allowed to be screened in the Middle East.”
This is not the first time Kashmir-set Lamhaa has courted controversies:
Premiere in Srinagar cancelled
Lamhaa was tipped to have a star-studded premiere in the state summer capital Srinagar, but it was cancelled by the Jammu and Kashmir government as they feared that the film may ignite riots in the region.
“It’s ironical that a film that was filmed in Kashmir valley will not be allowed to screen there. But if the government fears a backlash, we can’t do anything about it,” said producer Bunty Walia.
Lamhaa has been given an ‘A’ [Adult/+18] certificate by the Indian Censor Board
This certificate prompted Bipasha Basu to lash out: “Our film got an ‘A’ certificate though there are no adult scenes. It should have got a ‘U/A’ certificate because it presents a reality that our kids need to see.”
The film’s trailers described Kashmir as “the most dangerous place in the world”
India’s censor board took issue with the promotional trailers, forcing director Rahul Dholakia to make cuts.
Protests from locals on the first day of the shoot
More than four hundred locals, fearing that the film would show them in bad light, gathered around the set and took the cast and crew hostage.
“At first we didn’t know what was happening,” said director Rahul Dholakia. “But after being taken hostage by protesters for more than four or five hours, I could finally reason with them. This set the tone of things to come for us.”