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August 19, 1998


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HC clears public screening of Swami Vivekananda

The Delhi high court cleared the public screening of Swami Vivekananda after the producer and director of the film agreed for certain cuts and addition of a clip stating that the movie was the dramatised version of the life of Swami Vivekananda.

Justice Anil Dev Singh in a recent order disposed of the petition filed by the Vivekananda Welfare Society, questioning certain portions of the movie, after producer T Subbirama Reddy and director G V Iyer struck an agreement with the society.

The petitioner, represented by advocate Krishna Kumar Shukla, had challenged the legality and validity of the actions of the ministry of information and broadcasting and the director, Delhi Doordarshan for granting a certificate to the film under Sections 5A of the Cinematography Act, 1952.

The court order said the producer and the director have agreed to display a clip in the beginning and at the end of the film stating that the story was a dramatised version of the life of Swami Vivekananda based on the director's interpretation.

The clip will further state that certain portions of the film do not have the approval of the society as according to them it does not depict the true life of Swami Vivekananda. 'The Society does not agree with the respondents that Swamiji had quoted two shlokas from the Bhagwad Gita at the World Parliament of Religion, Chicago. What actually was said by Swamiji in Sanskrit has not been quoted,' the petition said.

It was also agreed that the scene depicting 'Maa Sharda' crying after the death of Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa shall be deleted.

The society had also challenged the granting of a certificate by the Censor Board saying it was illegal and arbitrary and should have been done after ascertaining the facts.

Challenging the clearance given by the ministry and Doordarshan, the petitioner said it was mandatory for them to strictly adhere to the guidelines as laid down under Section 5B of the Act and because of the non-observance of the procedure it has resulted in a serious error, jeopardising the valuable fundamental rights of the petitioner as envisaged under the Constitution.

Section 5B stipulates that a film shall not be certified for public exhibition if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it was against the interest of the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence.

The society had urged the court to revoke and suspend the certificate granted to the producer and the director of the movie to prevent them from going ahead with public screening.

Shukla had sought a direction to the ministry for exercising its revisional powers as contained under Section 6 of the Act to revise the decision of the Censor Board and also that the movie should be subjected to the re-examination by the Censor Board before its release.

He alleged that the director and producer of the movie had not done any investigation or research work on the life of Swami Vivekananda, picturised the whole movie based on premises and conjectures and a substantial portion of the movie was speculative.

The contents of the movie have greatly and immensly offended the faith and pious sentiments of Swami Vivekananda's followers or devotees, counsel for the society said.


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