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IFFI row: Director Sanal Sasidharan moves Kerala HC, another quits jury

On Monday, jury chairperson Sujoy Ghosh stepped down after the Information and Broadcasting ministry pulled out Malayalam film S Durga and Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi film Nude.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul | Mumbai | Updated: November 15, 2017 10:52 am
Sanal Sasidharan moves Kerala HC Sanal Sasidharan (File Photo)

The row over the dropping of two films by the government from the Indian Panorama section of the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) escalated Tuesday as director Sanal Sasidharan, whose film S Durga was one of two pulled out, moved the Kerala High Court while another jury member, Apurva Asrani, resigned saying “my conscience won’t allow me to participate in the festivities in Goa”.

On Monday, jury chairperson Sujoy Ghosh stepped down after the Information and Broadcasting ministry pulled out Malayalam film S Durga and Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi film Nude. Challenging the exclusion of S Durga, Sasidharan petitioned the Kerala High Court, urging it to direct the festival organisers and the ministry to include and screen his film in the festival which opens November 20. He called the decision of the ministry “arbitrary, illegal and unjust”.

Also read | Days after two films dropped from fest, jury chief Sujoy Ghosh resigns

Asrani, who followed Ghosh in walking out of the festival jury, said: “I stand with the chairman of the jury. We have had a responsibility towards some very sincere films, and somewhere we have failed them. My conscience won’t allow me to participate in the festivities in Goa. However, I wish all the other films good luck. Each one has been made with a lot of love and no controversy should take away from that.” Two jury members, Ruchi Narain and Gopi Desai, too said they were disappointed with the I&B ministry’s decision to change the list without consulting or informing jury members. But another member of the jury, filmmaker Rahul Rawail, told The Indian Express that two days before the final list was announced on November 9, he received a call from a member of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) team, seeking his suggestion on replacing S Durga.

“I cannot remember the name of the NFDC representative who called me, but I was asked what I would choose as the opening film if S Durga was to be replaced. I told them Pihu would be a good film to open with,” Rawail said. He maintained that the I&B Ministry’s decision to drop the two films from the selection did not warrant a controversy. “We were asked to select 21 films, plus another two for standby in case of any issue.

The 21 films on the final list are films that the jury selected even though two from our top 21 list have been dropped,” he said. But Kannada filmmaker Suresh Heblikar, also on the jury, expressed disappointment. “They didn’t inform anyone on the jury or even discuss their concerns. It was made very clear between NFDC and the jury that our decision will be final,” he said, adding that the two films dropped had been made aesthetically. “Both these films deserve to be on the list. Dropping them implies we cannot tell the difference between aesthetic and offensive.”

On Ghosh’s decision to resign, Heblikar said the chairperson’s decision is “understandable as he found himself in an embarrassing position”. He said he too may withdraw from the festival.

So far, the I&B ministry has not made any official comment. But sources in the ministry pointed out that S Durga had also been denied permission for screening at the Mumbai Film Festival in October, and this “uniform benchmark” was applied to IFFI. Regarding Nude, the ministry sources claimed it had been denied permission since the film was not complete technically.

Any movie which has not got certification from the Central Board of Film Certification needs the I&B ministry’s approval to be screened publicly, including film festivals.

Ravi Jadhav, director of Nude, said they applied to the CBFC last week and expected the certificate to come through soon. “The movie, which follows the life of nude models, deals with the subject aesthetically. I am certain of getting the certificate from CBFC soon,” he said.

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  1. Ml Pandit
    Nov 15, 2017 at 1:37 pm
    Since Hindus have become intolerant, why do our esteemed film producers not focus on non-Hindu themes and names for their films and money making. Let the producer of S Durga dare to rename the film even as S Shahi Jahan or S Mugols?
    1. S
      shiravanthe sridhar
      Nov 15, 2017 at 11:29 am
      This Antony ,Mark company commenting against chaddies at the slightest provocations, where were they when the last temptation of Jesus was banned, they were no chaddies on them at that time ,you communal commie rice bag converts,shut up.
      1. A
        Nov 15, 2017 at 10:33 am
        Illiiterate regressive North Indian goons ruling us has no idea what is a movie and what is reality! They follow exactly the regressive policies of porkistanis because both of them hav the same genes !
        1. M.s. Venkatraghavan
          Nov 15, 2017 at 9:58 am
          If there is no censorship our film fraternity will generate blue films only barring exceptions. This goons must be brought to senses and educate about decency while making films.Without any reason believing in anotomy of women rather worthy message is awful and obnoxious. Film fraternity must hang their heads in shame for these present state of affairs. India is land of cultural heritage but presenting it poorly using language of nonsense is objectionable.
          1. A
            Nov 15, 2017 at 10:36 am
            Oh India is a land of cultural heritage and that does not include Kamasutra? Come out of your chaddi shakhas and read Indian history or just go and closely look at the sculptures in some of the famous temples of India ! Illiiterate RSS chaddis will decide what is Indian culture???
          2. M
            Nov 15, 2017 at 9:56 am
            The eventual aim Of BJP is thought control. Some mediocre Sanghi will decide what we can think and what we can not.
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