Mumbai: Hansal Mehta’s “Omerta” tracks the story of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and the director says through this film he wants to provoke a thought among people about state sponsored terrorism.
Sheikh, a British terrorist of Pakistan descent, was involved in the 9/11 terror attacks and killing of American journalist Daniel Pearl. He is currently in prison in Pakistan serving the life sentence.
“There are some standard emotions that a film leaves you with like happiness, sadness, this (film) would leave you angry. We live in a world where a villain like this exists and yet we are silent about it,” Mehta told PTI.
“There is deadly silence about the truth surrounding state sponsored terrorism. It exists yet we do not talk about it. Governments don’t talk about it because the business of war keeps the government solvent,” he says.
Today everyone is busy in their own lives and do not care about things happening in the world until something affects them directly, Mehta points out.
“…Only when something happens we react. I am hoping the film will tell people to think we need to react. It is in government’s interest to maintain status quo they are in the business of war, fighting because governments and politicians make their money from oil and defence,” he adds.
The film features Mehta’s frequent collaborator Rajkummar Rao playing the part of the terrorist, but before he came on board, there were a few actors who were approached for the role.
“…That is much before I met Rajkummar. With ‘Omerta’ I was not able to find the producer initially for the film. I even pitched the story of ‘Omerta’ to the producers of ‘Shahid’ but they wanted to make ‘Shahid’ first as it seemed more manageable. I think everything happens at the right time. Rajkummar and me met and that changed things for us,” he says.
Given the fair bit of violence and tone of the film, Mehta did envisage the problem in getting a smooth clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
When the director first went to the examining committee seeking an ‘A’ certificate, the board ordered several cuts which Mehta felt were “unjustified” and he approached the revising committee, hoping they would understand the context of the film.
“The examining committee had asked for cuts which were completely unjustified. I had gone for the screening asking A certificate. I requested them give us an A certificate, I was surprised why the cuts. I had to take the film to revising committee that’s why the delay in release date.
“The revising committee suggested two cuts and I could have taken to tribunal but it is unfair to producers who have invested money in the film as the tribunal would take time.
There were two cuts and we did it,” he says.
The two cuts ordered by the revising committee were – a sequence where Omar is urinating during the national anthem and the other was sexual in nature, Mehta says.
“…It is an offensive scene and it is suppose to make you angry. There is one scene where he is having a violent sex before he carries out an operation,” he adds.
The director believes every film faces some difficulties but the challenge that “Omerta” posed was how to make a film on an antagonist, without glorifying anything.
“…For us it was about doing this film without making him look like hero. It is about a film on an antagonist and let him be an antagonist. Let somebody loathe or hate him,” he says.
The film is set to release on May 4.
Meanwhile, asked about the recent casting couch controversy, Mehta, who has always been vocal about expressing his views on topical issues, believes people react to the event and do not focus on the remedy.
“…We say death penalty for rapists but that is not enough. How do we prevent rapes from happening? How do we provide safety to women? We don’t look at these things. It is all superficial.
“The entire system is based on superficiality and it is based on populist statements and on reaction to things that are mentioned in social media,” he says. (PTI)
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