No, I have not seen Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi movie ‘Nude’. However, that does not stop me from questioning the I&B Ministry’s decision to remove it from the list of films to be screened at the 48th International film festival (IFFI). That a new kind of censor after the jury constituted for the purpose has selected it.
The jury unanimously named ‘Nude’, a story about a mother working as a nude model and her attempt to hide the fact from her son, as the opening film of the festival.
Additionally, they have also dropped another film, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s awardwinning movie ‘S Durga’; originally title ‘Sexy Durga’ and ‘sexy’ was something not favoured.
S Durga is a story of experience of two hitchhikers, a man and a woman, in the dead of the night. The director Sasidharan even complied with the requirement of few audio beeps as desired by the board.
By removing the film, I&B Ministry superseded the expert jury body decision. Whatever I have heard and read about the movie ‘Nude’ is something that should be promoted for viewing. Reacting to the ministry overriding the jury, Kahaani director Sujoy Ghosh’s decided to step down from the post of Jury Chairman of 48th IFFI to be held at Goa. I personally applaud this act of Sujoy Ghosh.
Is the nation so deprived of the expression that the word ‘nude’ will be largely misinterpreted?
I have seen the film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’. In the past, CBFC denied the film a certificate because “the story is lady oriented … there are sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society.” Such a ridiculous statement!
At that time, director Alankrita Shrivastava rightly questioned CBFC decision. “Why should a film that tells a story of female desire be stifled? Don’t women have dreams? Why is it okay for women to be shown as mere objects of male fantasy, but not women with agency over themselves? It is about the continued stifling of women’s voices in our country.”
For a change, the film later found its way to limited release in theatres and was well appreciated by everyone.
There have been many protests against paintings by MF Husain. Some paintings took on names he never gave. These names were good to fuel controversies. His painting “Bharatmata” (“Mother India”) is a classic example. MF Husain never gave it the name it is known by.
His many exhibitions have been vandalised and lawsuits been filed against him. A Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan awardee at the end opted for citizenship of Qatar and stayed away from the fundamentalists who questioned and protested against his art.
I have read the book ‘Godman to Tycoon’ by Priyanka Pathak Narian. I don’t understand why it was banned. By banning the book, a doubt has been raised. The complexities sprinkled all over the book get strengthened. Who is gaining out of all this?
I have not seen yet to be released Hindi movie ‘Padmavati’. However, few select regional bodies have raised demand of banning the film. I have a strong point-of-view against these objections. Earlier in the year, they vandalised Padmavati sets forced the director to shift his shoot location. The vote bank politics prevented the government to take any strong action.
If the censor board certifies the film, why should this mini unauthorised proponent of cultural protection be allowed to prevent screening? Should it not be the responsibility of government and its law and order machinery to ensure a safe release of the film?
By asking to ban the film, the agitation leaders accept fragility of the legacy of Padmavati!
Can her story, character and icon’s status be challenged and diluted by creative interpretation and representation? Director Sanjay Leela Bansali has assured that they have taken care of cultural regional sensibilities. There is no wrong projection of Padmavati. Frankly, there is no reason to agitate before first seeing the film.
If Padmavati is certified for release and Govt tries to ban it. Will Prasoon Joshi, Chairman CBFC set an example? Who will bell the cat? Who will stop this?
When will we stop threatening people for differential creative expression? Will Padmavati finally be released in the problem state?
I know my raising the voice against these biased acts may not count. Nevertheless, I will continue to voice my concern. It is not impossible that in future my creative expressions in form of stories, books, blogs, paintings, doodles and social media may be scrutinised and censored.
Do we really need these polarised radical cultural groups in addition to the CBFC to approve a film for screening? Should we, in this digital era, continue to ban physical copies of the book?
Should we hold back paintings and songs we interpret differently?
Should we get the scripts and manuscripts approved before hand?
If, the things continue, I will not be surprised if we get back to the old days when Doordarshan insisted on storyboard approval. Will we soon have censorship for the TV serial and short films?
When will we grow up as a nation?
When will freedom of expression stop requiring a third party affirmation?
When will government stop listening to insensible sensibilities of radical groups?
When will creative expression be allowed to be expressed freely?
When will government be powerful enough not to be swayed by the vote bank politics?
I don’t think we have any answer to the above questions. However, we have an option and a responsibility to raise the question.
We need to speak up. Otherwise, tomorrow it will be your creative expressions that will be censored.
P S:It will be foolish on part of us, the advertising, marketing and communication people to believe that this does not concern us. We must speak up or be ready for a day when this cultural and bureaucratic censorship dictates what and how we think.