I&B Ministry's directive to Sony TV on Vidya Balan-starrer, which is based on the life of Silk Smitha

Television viewers were in for a huge disappointment on Sunday afternoon as Sony TV decided not to telecast The Dirty Picture following a directive from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, which said a U/A certified film could be shown on the small screen only late in the night.

The much-talked about Vidya Balan-starrer was slated to be telecast at 12 noon and repeated at 8 p.m. and almost all newspapers in Mumbai carried huge advertisements and the channel ran promos in the morning.

The Ministry, in a letter to Sony TV, said the channel should refrain from telecasting the film during the day and evening hours. Sub-Rule 5 of Rule 6 of the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994, which contains the Programme Code, says any “programme unsuitable for children must not be carried in the cable service at times when the largest numbers of children are viewing.”

However, if Sony TV considered telecasting the film, it should do so only after 11 p.m. the letter said.

The film, originally rated A, went through 59 audio and visual cuts in February this year to get a U/A certificate, in order to be screened on television.

On April 19, the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, acting on a public interest litigation petition, asked the Centre to prevent the telecast of the movie as it violated the Cable Television Networks Rules, 1994.

The CBFC earlier advised Sony TV that the film be shown late at night when most parents would be available to guide their children.

There was no word from Sony TV on the entire episode. The channel merely ran a scroll: “For unavoidable reasons we regret to inform that the film The Dirty Picture will not be telecast today [Sunday]. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted.”

Directed by Milan Luthria, the film is based on the life of the southern actor Silk Smitha and depicts the rise and fall of a dancing star. Vidya Balan has won a national award for her portrayal of Silk Smitha.

Tusshar Kapoor, who acted in the movie, expressed his disappointment on twitter. “Really unfortunate that after all the necessary cuts and a valid UA certificate, The Dirty Picture could not be telecast today [Sunday] on Sony TV.”

“In light of recent events that exposed the dark side of Bollywood, The Dirty Picture was well timed as it depicts a similar harsh reality,” Tusshar wrote.

Tanuj Garg, CEO of Balaji Motion Pictures, commented on Twitter. “Sorry to everyone who's been messaging and calling this [Sunday] morning. Been on the phone continuously. It's unfortunate that even after …a valid censor cert being in place, the telecast was held [up]! The cuts made to TDP were done in a manner that would not offend the larger populace but completely retain the film's creative integrity!