They fear Jha's 'Aarakshan' will incite caste violence

LONDON — The Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab have banned helmer Prakash Jha’s “Aarakshan” (Reservation) on the grounds that it might incite inter-caste violence.

Jha has been forced to cut the pic to get a release in the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai, home of Bollywood, is the capital. The opposition party in the state of Bihar has also called for a ban on the film.

Jha is a provocative filmmaker who does not shy away from tackling Indian political hot potatoes. His “Gangaajal” addressed police brutality; “Raajneeti,” was a combo of “The Godfather” and Hindu epic “Mahabharata” that dealt with current Indian politics; and “Apaharan,” centered on serial kidnappings in the state of Bihar. All were box office successes.

“Aarakshan” deals with the sensitive issue of quotas in educational institutions, under which India’s higher castes take most of the places, depriving lower castes of seats.

Though the film was passed uncut by the Indian certification board, Jha was forced to edit certain scenes that some politicians felt denigrated the lower castes.

The decision angered “Aarakshan’s” star Amitabh Bachchan, who wrote in his blog, “If creative expression is to be curbed by institutes that wish to dictate their terms and conditions above the conditions of the legal recognized constitutional formats, then we might as well accept that we live not in a democracy but a most unfortunate fascist conditioning.”

Reliance will release “Aarakshan” Friday in North America, the U.K., Australia and other international territories.

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