Mumbai/Chennai: Prakash Jha's controversial Hindi film 'Aarakshan'(Reservation) is set to hit the screens on August 12th as scheduled after both Bombay and Madras High Courts on Tuesday cleared the decks for its release.
Bombay High Court declined to stay the release of the Amitabh Bachchan-Saif Ali Khan starrer and rejected a petition by two advocates demanding a special screening of the movie before its release. The petitioners claimed that the film's theme was anti-reservation and could disturb peace and harmony.
"We are of the view that the petitioner's prayers for special screening of the movie before its release is totally misconceived and wrong. Hence we are rejecting it. The matter has been postponed for a further hearing on August 22," a division bench of Justices D D Sinha and A R Joshi said.
While Dalit activists in Punjab continued protest by burning Prakash Jha's effigy.
Advocate Sanghraj Rupwate sought a stay on the release of the movie.
Madras High Court also lifted the interim stay on the civil case involving G G Photo Limited's Sushil Gupta and Madhu Gupta over the non-payment of dues worth Rs 3.71 crores after the film's co-producer Firoz Nadiadwala and the Guptas reached an out-of-court settlement.
Reacting to the court orders, Jha said he was expecting a positive response to the film.
"I was expecting it but as a producer you have a sense of distress. I am relieved now. I never expected this kind of protests for the movie. It is unfounded. I do not know who these people are and why they are doing it. Difference of opinion is always welcome but this is something beyond it," Jha told.
The film even before its release faced a spate of protests by several political leaders in Mumbai including state minister Chhagan Bhujbal of NCP and RPI (Athavale) chief Ramdas Athavale, besides the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes over its alleged anti-quota stance.
In the meanwhile, demanding a ban on the screening of 'Aarakshan', some Dalit activists burnt the effigy of the film's director Prakash Jha in Phagwara in Punjab.
Surinder Dhanda, President of Ambedkar Sena and a host of other activists presented a memorandum, addressed to the Punjab Chief Minister, to the local SDM Manpreet Singh.
Claiming that reservation was their constitutional right, they accused Jha of playing with their sentiments. The leaders appealed to the CM to take immediate steps to stop the film's release, scheduled for August 12.
They warned cinema houses and multiplex owners not to screen the film without the consent of Dalits. "In case they do so, they should be prepared to face the music," the leaders said.
Earlier, the activists took out a protest march from local Plahi Gate, passed through different bazaars, converged on National Highway 1 and burnt the effigy.
Jha, on his part, has refuted allegations that the movie is anti or pro-reservation. He said he has tried to balance both the views in the movie.
Besides Bachchan and Khan, the film also features Deepika Padukone, Prateik and Manoj Bajpai in key roles.<iframe width="100%" height="349" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/kdTwsVovgWM" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>