“Punjab ’95,” centered on Jaswant Singh Khalra, has been removed from the lineup at the Toronto International Film Festival. The picture, starring Diljit Dosanjh as Khalra, was supposed to premiere in the Gala Presentations strand on Sept. 11.
No formal explanation for the removal has been provided, but individuals with knowledge of the matter told TheWrap that the decision was made by the filmmakers, not the festival. As such the film is no longer featured on the official TIFF webpage.
Khalra was a famous human-rights activist who found evidence of the abduction, murder and cremation of more than 25,000 Sikhs by the police during a 10-year period from 1984 to 1994. Khalra vanished in 1995 and six Punjab police officers were eventually convicted, a decade later, of his murder.
Mumbai-based production company RSVP Movies applied for a censor certificate from India’s Central Board of Film Certification in December 2022. However, the decision was delayed for six months and was resolved only after the filmmakers took the matter to the Bombay High Court. It was eventually given an A rating (restricted to those 18 and up), with demands for 21 cuts and changes in the dialogue. RSVP Movies has filed an appeal with the Bombay High Court over the decision with no verdict yet reached.
Representatives of TIFF have not responded to The Wrap’s request for comment on its removal.
“Punjab ’95” is the second film helmed by Honey Trehan following the Netflix feature “Raat Akelia Hai.”
Screen Daily first reported Friday’s news.