Filmmaker Ashvin Kumar has questioned the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) decision to give his new movie No Fathers in Kashmir an ‘A’ certificate, which he says is discriminatory to a small independent film.
No Fathers in Kashmir, a Kashmir-set story of forgiveness and hope told through two teenagers experiencing first-love and heartbreak, was given an ‘A’ certificate following a review committee screening on October 6.
Kumar says the movie has no sex, no violence, no vulgarity, no profanity, no nudity and no drug abuse, as it attempts to provide a fresh and youthful look at an old issue by involving young people whose lives echo the lives of its teenaged protagonists.
“The CBFC’s decision is, firstly, against established law. In the case of Pankaj Bhutalia’s film on stone pelting in Kashmir, ‘The Textures of Loss’, in which the facts are almost similar to that of ‘No Fathers in Kashmir’, the Delhi High Court converted the ‘A’ rating to ‘U’,” Kumar said in a statement.
The filmmaker has also pointed out that CBFC is “being discriminatory to a small independent film as it has awarded a U/A certificate to big budget Bollywood film ‘Haider’, which was far more critical of the situation in Kashmir than ‘No Fathers in Kashmir'”.
He feels the CBFC has “avoided looking at the totality of ‘No Fathers in Kashmir’, as it is mandated to do by its own rules, by ignoring the film’s overall message of forgiveness and hope”.
“CBFC viewed the film instead through a narrow prism that belies a complex, multi-layered narrative. CBFC has also completely ignored the reality of the present situation in the country, ignored facts already in the public domain, ignored evolving tastes of younger audiences, ignored content presently available on TV and Internet and ignored precedents of previous films on Kashmir being cleared for universal screening.
“CBFC’s stand is retrograde. It reiterates decades of tired concepts that have left little room for dialogue while denying,” Kumar added.
Kumar has earlier made films like “Inshallah, Football” and “Inshallah, Kashmir”, both about Kashmir. They won a National Award each and were awarded at Dubai, Pusan, Chicago and other international festivals. But they too were both initially banned by the CBFC then, and after a protest by the filmmaker, both were given an ‘A’ certificate, read the statement.
Kumar, son of veteran fashion designer Ritu Kumar, says the ‘A’ certificate is “death by strangulation” for a filmmaker.
Explaining why, he said: “Being an independent film without big studio backing, monetisation is a challenge in itself. Theatrical revenues barely cover marketing costs and producers expect to make 50-60 per cent of the total revenues from broadcast rights, not to mention the audience exposure a film gets from being on TV.
“Under present laws broadcasters cannot air ‘A’ certificate films on TV. They can only run either ‘U/A’ or ‘U’ certificate films. Thus, an ‘A’ certificate is as good as banning the film,” he said.
He says by the time No Fathers in Kashmir is given relief by the courts of the land, it may become “financially unviable to release the film”.
“I lost both revenue and audience due to CBFC’s misuse of the ‘A’ certificate in the case of ‘Inshallah, Football’ and ‘Inshallah, Kashmir’. This is the third time they are trying to restrict my film using an ‘A’ certificate. This is an abuse of power, whereas CBFC’s mandate is only to certify films,” Kumar added.