Amid reports that the Central Board of Film Certification has asked the makers of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan to make changes to the shots used in its song Besharam Rang, lyricist-writer Javed Akhtar has said filmmakers need to have "trust" in the film certification body that has the authority to decide what will and what will not make the final cut.
His comments came a day before the trailer launch of Pathaan, a high-octane spy thriller directed by Siddharth Anand.
Referring to the CBFC as a "department" under the central government", the 77-year-old industry veteran on Monday said, "It is not for me or you to decide whether the song is right or wrong. We have an agency.
"There are people from the government and a cross-section of the society watch the film and decide what will be passed and what will not be passed.
"I think we should have trust in that certification, the cuts that they suggest and what they pass," Akhtar said.
According to reports, the CBFC suggested the film's production banner Yash Raj Films to make changes to Besharam Rang and remove all the mentions of the Indian intelligence agency RAW and Prime Minister's Office from the movie, scheduled to be released on January 25.
Featuring leading lady Deepika Padukone in a saffron bikini, Besharam Rang has found itself in the centre of a proverbial storm for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
Protests in several parts of the country have been held against the song.
Last week, posters of Pathaan were vandalised in a mall in Ahmedabad and members of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal stated they would not allow the screening of the movie in Gujarat unless their issues over the song were resolved.
Asked to comment on how fringe elements were protesting against the film, Akhtar disagreed saying it was not the fringe but politicians who had expressed their disappointment over the song.
"There are no fringe elements, the ministers are talking these things. Forget about the fringe elements. The Madhya Pradesh home minister has said it," he added.
Last month, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra took objection to Padukone's costume in the Besharam Rang and had said if certain scenes are not "corrected", the government will consider what to do about its screening in the state.
The Madhya Pradesh Ulema Board had also sought a ban on the film for “misrepresenting Islam”.
"If he (the minister) thinks there should be a separate censor board for Madhya Pradesh, they (should) watch the film separately. And if they are unhappy with the Centre's film certification, we should not come in between them, it is between them and the Centre," Akhtar further said.
Asked about the recently constituted 'Dharma Censor Board', the screenwriter said every 'dharma' (religion) should have its own censor board.
"There is one censor board in MP, then this is there and one censor board of the centre is also there. What is the problem? We have four-five important 'dharmas' and they should have their censors. Maybe then moulvis (under Islam) will start watching films. Do it, do it!" he quipped.
Akhtar was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of Jadunama, a coffee table book that draws its title from his nickname (Jadu).
A compilation of extracts from Akhtar's public speeches, interviews and quotes, Jadunama was unveiled by his close friend and veteran poet-lyricist Gulzar.
Akhtar's family members, including actor-wife Shabana Azmi, actor-filmmaker-son Farhan Akhtar, director-daughter Zoya Akhtar, actor Tabu, filmmaker Farah Khan, actor Nandita Das, directors Rajkumar Hirani and Ashutosh Gowarikar, and actors Deepti Naval, Divya Dutta, Urmila Matondkar, Saiyami Kher, and Satish Kaushik attended the event.