Gujarat High Court directs Censor Board to decide on demand for removal of ‘casteist slur’ from movie ‘Guthlee Ladoo’

Gujarat High Court directs Censor Board to decide on demand for removal of ‘casteist slur’ from movie ‘Guthlee Ladoo’

A view of the Gujarat High Court, in Ahmedabad. File
| Photo Credit: The Hindu

The Gujarat High Court on October 12 directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to take a call in 24 hours about the use of an “offensive” term for the Valmiki community in the Hindi movie ‘Guthlee Ladoo’, scheduled to be released on October 13.

Justice Vaibhavi Nanavati had issued an order asking the CBFC to decide on the issue in question “within 24 hours in exercise of the powers under the provisions of the Section 6 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952”.

Since the movie was scheduled to be released on October 13, the court directed advocate Siddharth Dave, who appeared at the request of Assistant Solicitor General Devang Vyas, to immediately convey the court’s order to the CBFC.

During a brief hearing on Thursday, one of the producers of the movie, UV Films, submitted that the movie has been screened at various film festivals and has been certified ‘U’ by the CBFC.

Films with the ‘U’ certification are meant for unrestricted public exhibition and are considered family-friendly.

Earlier on October 9, Justice Nanavati had issued notices to the CBFC and the makers ‘Guthlee Ladoo’ in a petition challenging the use of an offensive term for the Valmiki community.

The notices were issued on a petition filed by one Nimesh Vaghela seeking the removal of a word from the film as well as the withdrawal of its certification. Mr. Vaghela also demanded a stay on the release till the makers remove the “offensive” word featured in the movie trailer released recently.

The petition had said the film violated the provisions of The Cinematograph Act, 1952 as well as the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention and Atrocities) Act 1989, by using the said term, claiming that it hurts the sentiments of the Valmiki community.

The petitioner said he does not oppose the theme of the movie but is against the use of the “hurtful” term as well as the decision of the CBFC to grant ‘U’ certification to the movie. The term is used several times during a conversion between a mother and son in the movie trailer, stated the petition.

“The movie Guthlee Ladoo describes the agony of a kid of Valmiki Samaj, but at the same time, usage of the term ‘bhangi’ has been quite often, and the same has hurt the feelings of the people of Valmiki Samaj,” the petition had said.

“Theoretical and doctrinal underpinnings justifying restraints on derogatory and disparaging display of emotions may be traced to two primary factors: human dignity as a value as well as a right and the Preambular goals of ‘equality’ and ‘fraternity,” it stated.

“The use of the term is prohibited under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and the petitioner made representation against it before the President of India, chairman of CBFC, and president of the National Commission of Scheduled Castes as well as Gujarat Chief Minister,” he said in his plea.