Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chairman Syed Waseem Rizvi's movie 'Ram Ki Janmabhoomi' is set for release in the middle of the poll season, in which the Ayodhya dispute is already an emotive issue. The project has been mired in controversy since Rizvi, a strong votary of a Ram temple in Ayodhya, announced it last year.
Muslim organisations urged Rizvi to drop the idea, saying it was biased and pandered to communal forces. The Bombay High Court put restrictions on the promotion of the film, asking YouTube to take down its trailer until it is cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
"The movie and its trailer have got the clearance from the Censor Board and it will be released on March 29," Rizvi told PTI on Friday. The Supreme Court, hearing the land dispute case, recently set up a three-member mediation panel to explore the possibility of an amicable settlement.
The Shia leader is among those who have appeared before this panel. Rizvi, who is the movie's producer, claimed it will hit hard politicians and religious "contractors" who fan the Ayodhya controversy in the name of religion.
He claimed he has been warned against going ahead with the project, with even a brother of the 1993 Mumbai blasts accused Tiger Memon threatening him and asking him not to release it. "I am ready to face the repercussions of the film's release," he said.
'Ram Ki Janmabhoomi' (Ram's birthplace) traces the campaign for a Ram temple at the disputed Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid site in Ayodhya. It portrays the events since 1990, when, during Mulayam Singh Yadav's term as Uttar Pradesh chief minister, the police opened fire against 'kar sevaks" marching towards Ayodhya, the producer said.
In 1992, the Babri mosque at the site was demolished by a right-wing mob. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has said it wants a temple built, through consensus or after a court ruling, at the site many Hindus believe marks the birthplace of Lord Rama.
"The film questions why the issue of Ram temple and mental torture due to the `halala' practice persists in modern society," Rizvi said. Halala is a controversial ritual in which a divorced woman can remarry her ex-husband only after a brief marriage with another man.
"We have to come together to build a temple on the birthplace of Lord Ram and to eradicate a shameful evil like halala from society as soon as possible," he said. Manoj Joshi, Govind Namdev, Rajveer Singh, Nazneen Patni, Trisha Sachdeva and Aditya are the actors playing the leading roles in the film directed by Sanoj Mishra.
Rizvi has in the past offered prayers at the makeshift temple at the Ayodhya site. He has also said the Shia community was ready to give up its "claim" on the disputed site, respecting the faith of the majority community.
"I have made several efforts to broker peace between the litigants and the two communities by suggesting a Ram temple at his birthplace in Ayodhya and a 'masjid-e-aman' in Lucknow," he said. "But a few fundamentalists do not want an amicable settlement of the dispute," he said.
(With inputs from agencies.)