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Too dirty for daytime view

- Govt stalls TV premiere of film at noon

Mumbai, April 22: Sony television channel today cancelled its scheduled telecast of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful film, The Dirty Picture, after the government said the U/A-certified movie could not be beamed before 11pm.

Sony sources said the telecast had been “shelved for a while, not debarred” and the film would be beamed “soon”.

The channel started running a scroll a little before noon when the Vidya Balan film was to be telecast. It said: “For unavoidable reasons, we regret to inform that the film The Dirty Picture will not be telecast today. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.”

Sony had slotted the film for noon and 8pm but yesterday, the Union information and broadcasting ministry told it the film could be shown only between 11pm and 6am.

“It is not commercially viable to telecast the movie on a Sunday night after 11pm. There is no viewership at that time,” a Sony TV source said. “We will reschedule it after 11pm on a day it is convenient for more people to watch it.”

Two weeks ago, a plea was filed before the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court seeking a ban on the film’s telecast on Sony on the ground of obscenity. The bench said the film could be telecast after 58 cuts, of which 22 had already been made by producer Balaji Telefilms on its own.

Originally rated A, the film had gone through the cuts to get a U/A certificate for TV screening. Under censor board rules, a U/A film can be shown only after 11pm when parents are at hand to guide their children’s TV viewing.

Balaji officials expressed displeasure with Sony. “How could they slot a film with U/A certification at noon and 8pm? Haven’t they been in this business long enough to know better?” a Balaji official asked.

“We have not made a porn film. It’s a film with adult content and everybody knows that. It has been hailed artistically. On our part, to make the film fit for televising, we had already made 22 cuts. Later, we incorporated the rest of the 36 cuts the court had ordered. Why on earth did Sony slot it at noon?”

Tusshar Kapoor, who acted in the film, tweeted: “Sad that in spite of being acclaimed for its entertaining realism & having won 3 National Awards the regulatory forces have stalled the show.”

The film was produced by Tusshar’s sister Ekta and mother Shobha Kapoor, owners of Balaji Telefilms, and has Vidya in the lead role, based loosely on actor Silk Smitha’s life.

It won three national awards and was one of the biggest grossers of 2011. Made on a budget of Rs 18 crore, it raked in Rs 117 crore just from box-office collections. Balaji had sold the film’s telecast rights to Sony for Rs 8 crore.

A tweet from Ekta said: “Is it a trend to target something that defies the norm?”

Writer Taslima Nasreen tweeted: “TheDirtyPicture is not that dirty. The decision of not showing it on TV is dirtier.”