With just two days to go for the release of Rajinikanth’s 2.0, the Cellular Operations Association of India has written to the Central Board of Film Certification over the film’s depiction of mobile phones. According to a complaint letter by the ‘non-governmental society’ that is ‘dedicated to the advancement of modern communication’, the film “falsely depicts mobile phones and mobile towers as harmful to living creatures and the environment including birds and human beings, on account of electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions from them.”
The yet-to-be released film is the spiritual sequel of the 2010 Rajinikanth-Shankar venture, Enthiran. While Rajinikanth is set to reprise his dual roles as a scientist as well as the humanoid robot Chitti, Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar reportedly plays a scientist who turns into a birdman after an experiment goes awry. The promotional trailers and teasers for the film seem to depict Akshay Kumar’s character despising cell phones.
Interestingly, the letter acknowledges, "The said depiction of mobile services and towers is false, based on no evidence and wholly fictional."
The film including its teasers, trailers, and other promotional videos, is further berated by the COAI for violating its ‘constitutional rights’ under Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act 1952.
The section of the Act deals with films if they are "against the interests of [the sovereignty and integrity of India] the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence."
“It is defamatory of the complainant and its members, and violated their constitutional rights. Promotes obscurantist and anti-scientific attitudes towards mobile phones, towers and mobile services. Constitutes offences under section 268(public nuisance), section 505(statements conducing to public mischief) and section 499(defamation of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC). Stands to prejudice the ongoing proceedings before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Bhupesh Sehgal and Ors v. DDA and Ors, Civil Appeal No. 2612/2016. It is against the public interest,” states the letter.
The film was recently awarded a 'U/A' certificate by the CBFC. The COAI has called for the recall and revocation of the film’s certification ‘with immediate effect.’ It has also called upon the CBFC to re-examine the film and suspend its exhibition until the body’s complaint is probed.
Further, the COAI has asked for a copy of the movie to be provided to the body in order to “enable it a fair opportunity to raise its concerns fully and adequately.” COAI, set up in 1995, counts among its core members mobile phone service providers such as Aircel, Bharti Airtel, Idea Cellular, Reliance Jio, and Vodafone.
2.0, set to release on November 29, is bankrolled by A Subhaskaran under his banner Lyca Productions. It is believed to be the costliest Indian film to have ever been made, with a budget of over Rs 600 crore. Also starring Amy Jackson, Sudhanshu Pandey and Adil Hussain in pivotal roles, the film has music by AR Rahman. Touted to be among Asia’s costliest ventures, the film will also be simultaneously released in Hindi and Telugu.c