Chandigarh: “Get the head of Vinod Kapri, director of the film Miss Tanakpur Hazir Ho and receive an award of 51 buffaloes.” That’s what the Ahlawat Khap of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh, announced recently. Community leaders were incensed at the mention of a man raping a buffalo in the movie, through which the maker wants to make a scathing point on the bizarre way khaps function in the country. The khap had also threatened to burn down theatres if the film was released in Muzaffarnagar. Fortunately, no untoward incident has been recorded from anywhere in the country after the release of the film across India in around 1,500 theatres.
The story of Miss Tanakpur Hazir Ho is based on a real incident in Rajasthan, but the setting of the film is in a Haryanvi village named Tanakpur. However, the shooting of the film was done in a rural area about 20 km from Hapur near Ghaziabad in UP. Om Puri, Annu Kapoor, Ravi Kishan, Sanjay Mishra Jrishita Bhatt and Rahul Bagga play important roles in the film.
Speaking to Firstpost, director of the film, Vinod Kapri, a former journalist, said he was deeply disturbed by the khap’s diktat. “We live in a democratic country where people have the fundamental right to express anything through words, films or pictures. If the khaps had any objection and if they thought their sentiment was hurt they could have adopted other means such as going to the media and writing to the Censor Board etc. The Censor Board would have taken note of that. But in my case the fact is the board had cleared the film without any objection. So why this diktat?’’ he asked.
Kapri says as a result of the khap’s diktat, the film could not be released in Muzaffarnagar. “I had to seek police protection because of the threat to my life as my family lives in Noida, which is very close to Muzaffarnagar. Tell me why should the people of Muzaffarnagar be deprived of a film just because of threat by a khap? As far as my film is concerned, I am very happy with the people’s response in the country. The low budget film is doing good business all over,” he said.
He said Miss Tanakpur Hazir Ho was a political satire inspired by true events. Kapri said he presented the serious story in a slightly comical way to make it more interesting. Haryanvi was used to make the story look more realistic. The film is a love story set in a village of Haryana.
The film’s trailer was a great hit on social media where it crossed a million views within three days of its launch. “The incidents in the movie expose the absurd functioning of some local panchayats in the country, the police force, nursing homes and hospitals and people in power.”
Jat leader and national president of the Jat Arakshan Sangharsh Samiti, Yashpal Malik, took strong objection to the Ahlawat Khap’s diktat against Kapri. Talking to Firstpost he said, “I see it as a cheap publicity stunt by the Ahlawat Khap. Such Talibani diktats create a wrong impression about the khaps. At the same time I suspect that the filmmaker used the word ‘khap panchayat’ deliberately instead of just ‘panchayat’ to generate a controversy to make the film a hit. In the real story it was a regular panchayat in Rajasthan and not a khap panchayat which was involved.”
Dr Santosh Dahiya, national president of Haryana Sarv Jatiya Sarv Khap Panchayat also condemned the Ahlawat Khap’s announcement. “How can a khap leader issue such a statement? India is a democratic country. People have the right to say what they feel, make films the way they want. No one can dictate things to others,’’ she told Firstpost.
Jat social activist Khushwant Singh of Sonepat said, “There is no doubt that the khaps in the country have done many good things for the welfare of the society, but such objectionable and deplorable statements create wrong impression and a doubt in the minds of the people. Besides, objections were raised by people who had not even seen the film. This just shows the malafide intentions of people who issue such statements,’’ he said.