At the moment, media is mainly discussing about Padmavati, a film that has been in news ever since its shoot started but unfortunately the reasons have been all negative.
Often, content specific films become a target of political and religious groups especially if they are based on sensitive subjects such as History or religion. In Punjabi Film Industry, many movies based on militancy days faced objections from Censor Board and thus had to die a silent death. Saada Haq makers had a tough time during the release of their film while Kaum De Heere, Toofan Singh, The Mastermind Jinda Sukha besides others saw a release in overseas market, but were banned in India.
Looking back at the time when Punjabi Cinema was still in it's initial stage, the pre independence era, a film company named Akal Productions made a project based on Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The film's release led to violent protests in Lahore, so Pollywood maker, thereafter, avoided any further projects based on Sikhism, but only till the time Nanak Naam Jahaj Hai happened.
Emergency Period was another difficult time for filmmakers. Gulzar's Aandhi got delayed and a film called Kissa Kursi Ka went through an even worse stance. It's prints were set on fire!
In 1975, Dara Singh launched a big budgeted Punjabi Film 'Raj Karega Khalsa' with himself in key role, along with Rajesh Khanna, Neetu Singh, Naveen Nishchal, Yogita Bali and more. He completed the film smoothly but releasing it was not an easy task. For those who don't know, during Emergency anyone talking or writing against Govt faces problems. "Raj Karega Khalsa' was based on Sikh History and there were already quite a few objections at first place. But it was cleared by the censor board later when they could not find anything objectionable in the film.
A screening was organised for Giani Zail Singh (then Chief Minister of Punjab) and he suggested minor changes in the film. He proposed that the word Sarkar be changed to Raj and offered other recommendations as well. He then asked Dara Singh to change the turban colour of actors from blue to white. When Giani Zail Singh realized that it will be an expensive and time consuming affair, he told Dara Singh to release the film as it is.
'Raj Karega Khalsa' released in 1976 and got a bumper opening.
But soon a religious group named Budha Dal had objection over the film. Baba Santa Singh wanted a ban on the film due to which Dara Singh fixed a meeting with him but it went in vain. In order to avoid any tension in the state, the film got banned. Soon after, Dara Singh met as many biggies of the state as possible to get the ban lifted but not much came his way.
In his next attempt,Dara Singh changed the title of the film to 'Sawa Lakh Se Ek Larau' and made minor changes before he decided to release the film on one print in a very low profile way.
When Santa Singh got to know about it,he sent his men to stop the screening. Dara Singh appealed to them with folded hands to watch the film before talking any action. They watched the film,and loved it.
They assured Dara that they'll put forward their recommendation to Baba Santa Singh for not going against the film but even after sharing their liking for the film, Baba Santa Singh refused to listen. Dara Singh kept releasing it one by one in major cities like Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and many others and the response that the film gathered was phenomenal.
It was the Amritsar release of the film that made Dara Singh anxious as Baba Santa Singh strongly opposed the release of this film in the holy city. Though the preparations were all in place but at the last moment Dara Singh cancelled the release to avoid unwanted tension.
It finally released in Amritsar in the year 1979 when Budha Dal sent an apology letter to Dara Singh. But due to very bad experience Dara Singh decided to shelve the other Punjabi Films which he planned to make on Sikh History.
Going by the on going political and sentimental overflow of some groups, It will be immensely tough for even the new age filmmakers to bring forward the glorious chapters from History to the big screen.