SC asks Kashmir documentary filmmaker: Is it ‘fashionable’ to make one-sided movies?

The documentary features interviews of people who lost their kin because of the conflict and violence in Kashmir.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Updated: January 13, 2015 4:07 am
Butalia’s counsel claimed that he never got a personal hearing before the Censor Board and that the movie was only trying to show the grief suffered by some families. Butalia’s counsel claimed that he never got a personal hearing before the Censor Board and that the movie was only trying to show the grief suffered by some families.

The Supreme Court on Monday asked a filmmaker who shot a documentary on Kashmir whether it had become “fashionable” to depict only one side of the story in movies.

The bench was hearing a petition by filmmaker Pankaj Butalia, who complained about the Censor Board’s refusal to clear his documentary, Textures of Loss. The documentary features interviews of people who lost their kin because of the conflict and violence in Kashmir. Some of them condemned the country and the Army, while others spoke about jihad. The Censor Board sought some cuts in the documentary, but Butalia maintained he was merely depicting opinions. He challenged the board’s decision before the appellate body but when that did not work, he moved the apex court.

On Monday, a bench of Justices Vikramjit Sen and C Nagappan asked, “Why is it one-sided? Where is the alternate picture? We don’t know why it has become fashionable and a question of human rights to talk about one side of a story. Rights are always conferred on two parties and not only on one of them… this is what is happening with activists.”

Butalia’s counsel claimed that he never got a personal hearing before the Censor Board and that the movie was only trying to show the grief suffered by some families.

However, as he read out some statements made by people in the documentary, the bench asked whether the film was only about what these people had to say, or whether the filmmaker had tried to strike a balance by showing the alternate view.

“If you have not taken the view of the other side, then it becomes the views of the producer or director. It is not the people’s view as you want to project it. Which people are you talking about when you haven’t spoken to others? When a filmmaker goes on to show only his point of view, it remains his view,” said the bench.

“Criticising one view and exalting others… or if not exalting, understanding one view and not even trying to understand others may not be right. You cannot have a one-sided view of a story,” it added.

The bench said it held a strong view against showing only one side of a story and that it would be fair on its part to refer Butalia’s petition to some other bench for adjudication. At this, Butalia’s counsel sought to withdraw the petition from the Supreme Court and said they would move the Delhi High Court instead. The petition was allowed to be withdrawn.

The comments by the bench come on the heels of a controversy surrounding the film PK, which came under fire from some sections for allegedly offending religious sentiments.

For all the latest India News, download Indian Express App now

First Published on: January 13, 2015 12:00 am
  1. P
    Prapur
    Jan 12, 2015 at 7:12 pm
    Very good stand by Apex court. So many NGOs are bent on demonizing Hindus in India & many of them are funded by overseas.
    Reply
    1. R
      Raj
      Jan 15, 2015 at 7:47 am
      Well this side of the story also doesn't make such filmmakers any money. In fact the other side might have attracted an eye of some ministry or organisation hired to portray a glorious India. While this one earns them the wrath of the state, indifference of we the people and of course absence of a platform to even showcase. It's not only disgraceful from freedom of expression's point of view but also completely crazy to expect an artist to keep his expressions on an even keel.
      Reply
      1. A
        Abhishek
        Jan 15, 2015 at 1:05 pm
        Who is banning? Please read carefully. The censor board was only doing its job. The filmmaker tried to be smart and was put back to his place by the SC for once.
        Reply
        1. S
          Savika Saveplanet
          Jan 27, 2015 at 9:14 am
          "Inshallah Kashmir" answers comprehensively the question, often asked in exasperation by those who live in the rest of India, "what the is it that the Kashmiris want?"Watch it free online here cutv (DOT) ws/play/10426
          Reply
          1. S
            Savika Saveplanet
            Jan 27, 2015 at 9:21 am
            Doentary "Inshallah Kashmir" answers comprehensively the question, often asked in exasperation by those who live in the rest of India, "what the is it that the Kashmiris want?" watch it free online at www (DOT) cultureunplugged (DOT) com/play/10425
            Reply
            1. A
              Alansaralhaq
              Jan 13, 2015 at 4:03 pm
              Contrary to your benign understanding of what kashmir is. Ultimately it is the choice of kashmiris and WE do not seek any union with India. As a Azad Kashmiri all of us are stani as we are Indus Valley People and not from The dirty Ganges.
              Reply
              1. A
                Alansaralhaq
                Jan 13, 2015 at 4:06 pm
                obviously you are hiding something and seek to brush the por grievance aside.Dont worry this is what occupiers do and you lot are no different.As an Azad kashmiri the world can come and see the true face of Kashmiris at peace in Azad Kashmir which is administered by stan not Occupied like India which is what our brethren live under./
                Reply
                1. A
                  Ashish
                  Jan 13, 2015 at 8:59 am
                  Any film, play, book? Have you read the article? Did you read what counsel of peioner argued? He said doentary is projecting view of the people,It's doentary, which is suppose to be fact based balanced projection of event or situation.Well done SC for striking the balance.
                  Reply
                  1. B
                    Bob
                    Jan 13, 2015 at 9:23 am
                    As someone said below when anti-India elements are paying for the film, why have a pro-India view?
                    Reply
                    1. D
                      Devaki Khanna
                      Jan 17, 2015 at 12:38 pm
                      Or a cution complex.
                      Reply
                      1. K
                        Kannada First
                        Jan 13, 2015 at 7:52 am
                        @bottleneck Who's banned it? Judges have made an observation which is coherent. Why do we have a censor board for films in India as everything can be claimed as "freedom of expression"? Its high time the so called "intellectuals" spread misinterpretations of the terms like freedom of expression, secularism, socialism, etc.
                        Reply
                        1. B
                          bottleneck
                          Jan 13, 2015 at 6:57 am
                          A dangerous observation by the honorable judges...any film, play, book can now be banned on the grounds that it is 'one-sided'. It is astonishing that in 2015 the eminent judges choose to turn the clock back on freedom of expression.
                          Reply
                          1. B
                            bottleneck
                            Jan 14, 2015 at 7:50 am
                            I don't know what kind of doentaries you see, but most of the ones I've seen are very opinionated and don't try to strike a 'balanced projection'. Doentary filmmakers have a strong point of view, and they have a right to pursue that. At least that's the way it works in most democracies.
                            Reply
                            1. B
                              bottleneck
                              Jan 14, 2015 at 7:54 am
                              Such judgements have a chilling effect on future doentaries that are trying to make an unpor point that doesn't fit into the nationalistic narrative. The courts should be protecting freedoms, not diminishing them. Whether someone agrees with the film or not is another matter
                              Reply
                              1. R
                                Raghu Panjala
                                May 5, 2015 at 12:16 pm
                                Who cares for what you want. We wont allow another division. The struggle has been going on for 1300 years. We will keep on struggling. We had enough. We will not allow mindless arguments.
                                Reply
                                1. V
                                  Venki
                                  Jan 13, 2015 at 9:18 am
                                  A pertinent point raised by the Supreme Court, but it is also one that can be seen differently depending on the context. Here, the important part is the observation that "... it has become fashionable to talk about human rights on one side only". Probably, the film maker would agree with this observation privately; however he would be unwilling to place on record that ' the other side of the story' would not make him any money! So, no praise for the judges nor sympathy for the film maker.become fashionable and a question of human rights to talk about one side of a story. - See more at: :indianexpress/artic...
                                  Reply
                                  1. I
                                    Indian
                                    Jan 13, 2015 at 6:50 am
                                    Excellent observation and question by SC. Unfortunately except IE, no other media has published or telecast this..!Very true that so called activists always telecast there views (mostly anti-nationalist or anti-development) on name of common people's voice and human right violates. Producers / Directors / NGOs have there own commercial / personal interest in such movies / productions.If they wanted to high light onion, they should not only telecast of so called victim's family but also opposite side - army / police / government / corporation. There should be law to highlight both version and then leave to people who is correct - so called victim or government.Right now it is fashion that on name Human Right Violent, NGOs / Activists only try to create sympathy for terrorists or anti-social element and creating picture that army / police is a group of rapists / killer..!This should be stopped...
                                    Reply
                                    1. I
                                      indian
                                      Jan 13, 2015 at 3:26 am
                                      So, is a one-sided doentary not permitted by our consution ? There are newspapers run by political parties - are they not one-sided ? There are websites, blogs, FB pages, tweets, etc which are one sided and propaist - are also to be questioned henceforth ?
                                      Reply
                                      1. I
                                        Internet Guardian
                                        Jan 13, 2015 at 11:21 am
                                        Thanks for that comment. I keep saying the same to all my friends. But, unfortunately, most of them seem to be suffering from cutory Delusion
                                        Reply
                                        1. I
                                          Internet Guardian
                                          Jan 13, 2015 at 11:20 am
                                          While I don't know about the content of the doentary to comment on it, I will say that a court deciding on what is one sided or two sided view on any film or work of art is actuallt terrifying when looked at in the context of Freedom of Expression. Where is this country going really?
                                          Reply
                                          1. G
                                            guru
                                            Jan 15, 2015 at 8:30 am
                                            Present the views of both sides and human rights are for all and not for just one segment, good point of view, thank you Supreme Court
                                            Reply
                                            1. Load More Comments