Neeraj Pandey's long-awaited film Aiyaary landed in hot waters when the film was put on hold due to its certification process. Starring Sidharth Malhotra and Manoj Bajpayee in leading roles, the film sees the two play army officers. Because of this backdrop, the Ministry of Defence wanted to see the film if the Indian army is projected in a balanced light.
When Neeraj was asked about it, he told a leading daily, "We had submitted the film to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) on January 19 and didn’t think it would be an issue. Although the MoD had always wanted to watch the film, we had told them to route it via the CBFC. I’ve heard it is a common practice by MoD to watch films that feature characters from the defence forces. But we didn’t know that the back-and-forth would take this long. We had no choice but to delay the release."
Did MoD view Baby and Rustom as they also had characters from the armed forces? On this, Neeraj, said, "No, and I am not sure why they were so interested in this film. Maybe the trailer made them think the film is about a sensitive subject. They didn’t ask for any cuts but we did make some audio changes, for instance, we have muted the word Kargil."
He went on to add, "In my case, I would like to believe that the MoD had genuine concerns. But yes, everyone is too sensitive these days, and add to that the power of social media, which allows anyone to have a say. Only one body should have any say in the film’s release, and that’s CBFC."
Will the delay affect the film? "In our case, we have had to extend the marketing campaign by three weeks and repackage it twice. There are stickers on posters now, announcing the new dates, and they look awful. It’s a logistical nightmare and there is also the fear of losing viewers," said the director.
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