On Friday, famed lyricist Gulzar received a long-awaited present on his 83rd birthday. It was announced that his 1988 film, Libaas, would finally receive a theatrical release after languishing in the in the archives of the Directorate of Film Festivals.
The film, which stars parallel cinema icons Shabana Azmi and Naseeruddin Shah in the lead roles, dealt with themes of adultery and jealousy against a backdrop of show business.
Libaas has been screened at several film festivals, including a screening at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa after a gap of 22 years on November 22, 2014. It was also screened at the International Film Festival at Bangalore in January, 1992.
Gulzar would later go on to direct films like Parichay, Aandhi, Mausam, Angoor, Ijaazat, Lekin..., Maachis and Hu Tu Tu.
But Libaas isn’t the only film to have not been given a theatrical release. Here are 4 other films that, for various reasons, have remained unreleased.
Anurag Kashyap’s first film wasn’t released in theatres because the Central Board of Film Certification objected to its portrayal of violence and drug abuse. Like Libaas, it has been screened at several film festivals since 2003.
2. Mohalla Assi
Sunny Deol’s Mohalla Assi has been cursed with bad luck, it seems. On 30 June 2015, the release of Mohalla Assi was stayed by a Delhi court for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. In the same month, an FIR was filed in Varanasi against star Sunny Deol and director Chandra Prakash Dwivedi for the alleged use of abusive language in the film. The film was banned by the CBFC on 8th April 2016. In August, the film was leaked online.
Shot in the same year as Libaas was scheduled to release, 1988, this Vinod Khanna, Dimple Kapadia-starrer was never completed. “Zooni,” according to a New York Times article, “is an Indian epic that chronicles the fall of Kashmir in the 16th century, to the Mogul Empire.”
It is unclear why director Shoojit Sircar’s film, starring Amitabh Bachchan as a man who embarks on a journey of self discovery, is still unreleased. Indeed, it might not even have been completed. It remains entangled in a legal battle between production houses, and everyone involved has moved on. Ironically, the lyrics for the film was provided by none other than Gulzar.