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EC stops release of Narendra Modi film during elections, day after Censor Board clears it

'PM Narendra Modi', directed by Omung Kumar, was scheduled to release on 11 April, the first day of voting in the Lok Sabha elections.

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New Delhi: The Election Commission Wednesday stopped the screening of a biopic on Prime Minster Narendra Modi during the elections, a day after the Censor Board cleared the film with 11 cuts.

The move also comes a day after the Supreme Court refused to stop the film’s release, calling it a “non-issue” at the time since the movie was yet to be certified.

In a letter addressed to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification, the EC said that “any biopic material in the nature of biography/hagiography sub-serving the purpose of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which is intended to, or which has the potential to disturb the level-playing field during the elections, should not be displayed in electronic media, including cinematograph, during the operation of the MCC [model code of conduct]”.

The EC letter also refers to complaints regarding two other political movies — Lakshmi’s NTR and Udyama Simham, based on the lives of the Telugu Desam Party’s late founder N.T. Rama Rao and Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, respectively — and the poll watchdog is now expected to constitute committees to examine the content of each of these films.

In the strongly-worded letter undersigned by the three election commissioners, the EC has said that in the wake of complaints regarding such content — even if it is certified by the appropriate authority — “a committee, duly constituted by the commission, shall examine the same and suggest appropriate action”.

“This committee shall be headed by a retired Justice of Hon’ble Supreme Court or retired Chief Justice of any Hon’ble High Court,” it adds.

The Modi biopic, titled PM Narendra Modi, directed by Omung Kumar, was scheduled to release on 11 April, the first day of voting in the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections.

The film has been at the centre of a controversy for weeks now after opposition parties and common citizens alleged that it is a propaganda film, which could influence voters if released in the middle of the elections.

Also read: Narendra Modi didn’t need NaMo TV or biopics in 2014, he needs both now

This report has been updated with additional information

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  1. My personal view is that films, books, other such material should continue to flow freely, irrespective of the electoral calendar. However, one welcomes this decision by the ECI. It needs to be blowing the whistle more often, more loudly.

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