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Article 15 faces protests, filmmaker asks for help

July 1, 2019

Ayushmann Khurrana's new film Article 15, a movie about the caste system in India, has run into protests in many parts of the country. Some theatres took the decision not to screen the movie and this has started a debate about free speech.

Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha has issued an appeal for help as tensions and protests have risen in many cities. There are mobs outside cinema halls holding protests as they say the movie shows the the so-called upper caste Brahmin community in a bad light.

An organisation called the Brahmin Samaj of India had earlier filed a petition in the Supreme Court to stop the film's release. The film, which stars Ayushmann Khurana, was then shown to many organisations, including the Karni Sena. The Karni Sena then issued statements saying they had no objections to the film. This is the same organisation that had protested against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's film Padmaavat saying it defamed a queen from the Rajput community.

But Sinha says the protests continue in many cities like Patna, Roorkee, Aligarh and Kanpur where mobs are forcing cinema hall owners to stop the screening of the film.

The director has also broken the law by keeping the name of the movie after an article of the constitution. We won't tolerate such dictatorship in India. - Brahmin Sena

Sinha says he has tried to ask local authorities for help but has received none so far. In Haridwar after mobs forced a theatre to stop the screening, the cinema hall owner appealed for police protection, but this was reportedly turned down by the sub-divisional magistrate. In Roorkee, the sub-divisional magistrate has issued a letter saying the film cannot be screened as there can be a law and order situation.

On the day of the film's release, members of various Brahmin organisations like Akhil Bhartiya Brahmin Ekta Parishad, Sarva Brahmin Mahasabha, Parshuram Sarva Kalyan and Brahmin Mahasabha raised slogans against the actors and the producer of the film and tore-off film-posters in Kanpur. After this, the screening of the film was cancelled in a number of cinema halls and heavy police force has been put outside cinema halls in Uttar Pradesh.

The film is inspired by the 2014 Badaun rape case where two teenage girls were gang-raped and murdered. These organisations claim the movie is defaming their community.

The film has evoked strong reactions on social media as well with many slamming the director defaming the Brahmin community while other have praised it for its realistic portrayal of caste-based discrimination in rural India. Praising the actor Ayushmann Khurrana, Anand Chalwadi tweeted calling it a "must watch movie. Need so much courage to do this kind of movies. Hat's off". Another person said he felt ashamed of the caste system. "In first half you will feel ashamed of the caste system. After the movie you will feel ashamed of being human as to be part of this society".

However, another person Karuna Tyagi called the movie biased. "Biased Bollywood has come again with a propaganda against Hinduism specially against Brahmins..so boycott this movie".

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