Bollywood director Vivek Agnihotri screened his political drama “Buddha in a Traffic Jam” open-air inside the Jadavpur University campus amid protests by the students.
Agnihotri was welcomed at the campus gates with black flags, sloganeering and placards asking him to leave.
The filmmaker claimed he was manhandled and gheraoed by some students and even the glass pane of his car was left shattered in the commotion.
The state-run varsity’s alumni association, which runsthe Triguna Sen auditorium, had decided to cancel the booking for a pre-release screening of the film in their hall.
The producers, however, went ahead with the screening at an open-air space in the campus saying they have support from another group of students.
“The students arranged a bed-sheet and turned it into a screen to see my film. Many watched it and realised it’s not what they were thinking. It is a realistic film,” Agnihotri, who has in the past made films like “Hate Story” and “Goal”, told PTI.
Even as the screening was going on in the evening after classes were over, the agitators carried on with a protest demonstration near the spot.
The agitating students said they have nothing against the screening of the film, but were protesting against the “divisive content” in the film, which also stars Anupam Kher.
“We all know Kher’s views in the whole debate on whatever happened in JNU. He is acting in this film which has divisive content. We are protesting against that,” Sounak Mukherjee, a first year MA student of English department, said.
In a letter to the organisers, alumni association’s Sipra Patra had said due to model code of conduct prevailing during state elections, they were unable to allow screening of the movie.
Agnihotri said there was no code of conduct for screening a film, which would be released nationwide on May 13.
“The students want to see the film and they want it to be screened. So they said they will arrange for its screening in the open air. I’ll fight for it because this is a matter of my freedom of speech and expression,” the filmmaker said.
He wondered why people were scared of the screening of the film, which he describes as “the boldest political movie ever made in India”.
The film, which also stars Arunoday Singh in important role, has so far been screened in a number of educational institutes throughout the country including JNU.
“I faced some issues and non-cooperation from some people during the screenings in other places also,” Agnihotri said.
Jadavpur University authorities have rubbed off their shoulders from the issue saying they had no role in the cancellation of the screening.
“The hall doesn’t belong to us. It is not controlled at all by us. We have no role to play in the screening or cancellation,” Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das said.