International Film Festival of India, a government entity, is making sure it is remembered more for the films it has pulled out than the content it will finally screen. Days after two regional films, Nude and S Durga were dropped from the Goa festival, it has been reported that acclaimed Pakistani feature, Saawan has been pulled out from the programme too.
Saawan is Pakistan’s entry to Oscars 2018 in the Best Foreign Film category. It was supposed to be screened at 48th edition of IFFI in the Cinema of the World section, but is no more a part of the slate. Its director Farhan Alam expressed his disappointment in an email interview to The Hindu.
Alam said that on October 26, he received an official letter from Festival Director Sunit Tandon stating that the festival was honoured to present the film in the Cinema of the World section. The letter invited Alam to present the film at the festival and interact with the audience.
“I was excited to take part in the festival and share my film with an Indian audience. It would have been an honour for me to share my work and I was hoping to meet filmmakers from India as well as around the world,” the publication quoted him as saying.
In an e-mail dated November 4, senior programmer Deepika Suseelan, however, informed the director that the film could not be screened. It said that because of “scheduling constraints” they were unable to showcase some of the films originally planned. “It was very disappointing and heartbreaking for me to hear this news as I was looking forward to attend this festival,” said the filmmaker.
Based on the true story of a polio-stricken child, who faced difficulties in the deserts of Pakistan, Saawan released in its home country in September. It has won accolades at various international festivals. It is supposed to be screened at an Indian film festival, the third edition of All Lights Indian International Film Festival, which is scheduled for December 1-4. The suspense drama stars Saleem Mairaj, Syed Karam Abbas, Arif Bahalim, Najiba Faiz and Imran Aslam in the lead roles.
Last year, Jio MAMI 18th Mumbai Film Festival dropped Pakistani feature Jago Hua Savera as part of the Restored Classics Section after receiving threats from Mumbai-based organisation Sangharsh’s complaints and threats. The Sangharsh’s stand followed the directives issued by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA) and the Cinema Exhibitors Association against Pakistani talent in Indian films in the wake of the Uri attack.
Interestingly, Jago Hua Savera was also Pakistan’s entry to the Oscars for the Best Foreign Film category in the year 1959.