After a long-drawn battle against the exclusion of Malayalam film S Durga from the Indian Panorama of International Film Festival of India, Goa, in November and the censorship troubles, the review committee of Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) has finally cleared S Durga for public release. The committee gave the clearance for the movie’s theatrical release on the condition that its team won’t use any title other than S Durga (which was earlier called Sexy Durga) during its exhibition as well as during its publicity and in related materials. The film’s writer and director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, also submitted an affidavit to the revising committee with the assurance to that effect.
Earlier, Sasidharan was in talks with three distributors for the release of the film across India. They developed cold feet after the controversy over the unceremonial removal of the film from the Indian Panorama in spite of being selected by the official jury. Even though Kerala High Court asked the IFFI officials and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to screen it during the festival, they did not do it when the CBFC, Thiruvananthapuram, sought to re-examine the film. The CBFC’s contention was that hashtags in the changed title — S### Durga — are “effectively undermining and attempting to defeat the very basis of title registration and changes (that were) effected”.
Calling the whole exercise “unnecessary”, Sasidharan said that he would be approaching distributors for the film’s all- India release. “We are looking at releasing it in April. I’m hopeful of finding a distributor to show it in Indian cities. In Kerala, we will try to release it in every nook and cranny,” he said. In case he doesn’t find a distributor, Sasidharan says he is open to the exploration of parallel platforms. The movie, which follows the travails of a couple on the run one night, holds a mirror up to the patriarchal society. It has won multiple international awards.
Meanwhile, Sasidharan’s next project, Unmadiyude Maranam (Death of Insane) has also run into trouble as the Kerala State Film Development Corporation has withdrawn the subsidy for it. The KSFDC informed him that the subsidy would be given only if the film is shot with a camera with a one-inch wide sensor. Though he is confident of finishing the film, which is under post-production at present, he is disappointed over the treatment meted out to independent filmmakers.
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