Profanity fuse into the local dialect of Varanasi in the official trailer for Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s Mohalla Assi. The film, staring Sunny Deol and Sakshi Tanwar, will be in theatres on November 16.
Set in the 1990s, Mohalla Assi examines the commercialisation of religion and the proliferation of foreigners in the holy city of Varanasi. Deol plays a pious and rigid Sanskrit teacher in Varanasi’s famed Assi Ghat who cannot come to terms with the changing face of his city. All this unfolds against the backdrop of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement to build a temple in Ayodhya at the site of the Babri Mosque and the implementation of the Mandal commission report granting reservations to Other Backward Castes.
Presented by Crossword Entertainment and Wisdom Tree Productions, Mohalla Assi is based on Kashi Nath Singh’s book Kashi Ka Assi. The cast includes Ravi Kishan, Saurabh Shukla, Mukesh Tiwari, Faisal Rashid and Rajendra Gupta.
A version of the trailer that was leaked in 2015 had prompted protests over its abusive language – in particular, over a scene where a man dressed as the god Shiva uses expletives. An FIR was filed against Deol and Dwivedi, contending that the film shows Varanasi in a poor light.
The film’s release comes after a two-year legal battle and several production delays. The Central Board of Film Certification refused to clear the movie in March 2016, claiming that it could offend religious sentiments. After the producer moved the Delhi High Court, the movie was cleared with one cut and an A certificate in January.