Censors clear film four days before release with truncated title, Savarkar’s name deleted and a photograph replaced

On June 15, 2007, the United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 2, Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary as the International Day of Non-Violence. A decade later, an inspired Naeem A Siddiqui decided to pay a tribute to the Father of the Nation with a film he titled Hey Ram Humne Gandhi Ko Maar Diya and which revolved around two strangers with completely opposite ideologies who meet on the train on January 28,1948. The events that unfold over their two-day journey which includes Gandhi’s assassination leave a lasting impact not just on these two, but also on the country and the world at large.

Siddiqui wrapped up his film in four-and-a-half months which included a 22-day shoot but then had to wait for a month for the film to be cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). It was passed on Monday evening with a ‘U’ certificate, a couple of minor cuts and the two words commonly associated with Gandhi as they were the last ones he uttered, ‘Hey Ram’, snipped out of the title. It will now be unveiled as Humne Gandhi Ho Maar Diya this Friday.

“I tried convincing the Examining Committee to let me retain the words ‘Hey Ram’ but they were adamant that I should drop them without offering me any explanation for their objection. Since my film was up for release, I didn’t have the time to convince them otherwise. I would have been happy had I been allowed to retain my original title and not have to change my publicity material but I’m just relieved that the film is finally releasing,” says the first-time director who was also asked to replace a photograph of Dr KB Hedgewar founder member of the RSS and delete Vinayak Damodar Savarkar’s name unless he could provide proof of his statement.

Though there are references to the British’s divide-and-rule policy, two Jinnah and the Muslim League as well as the Hindu Mahasabha that propagated the two-nation theory that lead to the Partition, Siddiqui is quick to point out that he is not alluding to present politics or wants to hurt anyone’s sentiments. “Pratima Kannan embodies Gandhian philosophy of love, peace, tolerance and non-violence in my film and I believe that this is the only philosophy which can fight hate, fear and violence that is stirred up in the name of religion, caste and racism,” he added.