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.

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  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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
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    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
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    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
  8. 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
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