Amid allegations that two movies selected by a 13-member jury for the Indian Panorama section of the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) were removed from the final list by the I&B Ministry, the panel’s head Sujoy Ghosh has stepped down from the post. Ghosh, director of the Bollywood hit Kahaani, confirmed to The Indian Express that he has resigned as head of the jury but declined to offer any comment.
On November 9, the I&B Ministry announced the list of ‘feature’ and ‘non-feature’ films for the Indian Panorama section of IFFI, which is scheduled to be held from November 20 to 28 in Goa. Following the announcement, some members of the jury criticised the decision to drop Sanal Sasidharan’s Malayalam movie S Durga and Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi film Nude from the list, allegedly without consulting them. The ministry has not responded to the allegations.
S Durga, which has been screened at a number of international film festivals, exposes the reality of a misogynistic society and captures various encounters of a couple running away in the night. Nude explores the life and conflicts of a nude model at an art school. Instead of Nude, the Hindi movie Pihu by Vinod Kapri was finalised as the opening film.
Sasidharan and Jadhav expressed shock over the alleged removal of their movies from the final list. Sasidharan said he has sent an email to the ministry asking for the reasons behind the “arbitrary removal of the film” and demanding the screening of the movie selected by the jury. Jadhav said he would write to the ministry, too, questioning the exclusion of Nude.
Apurva Asrani, one of the jury members, had tweeted: “Sexy Durga&Nude are among the best of contemporary cinema. They both present a powerful and empathetic portrait of women of today’s India.”
The final list of 26 feature films selected for the Panorama, which includes five mainstream films, was prepared by the jury after previewing 153 eligible entries. The Panorama will also screen 16 non-feature films.
Apart from Ghosh and Asrani, the jury for feature films in the Panorama also includes director Rahul Rawail, actor-director Gopi Desai, filmmaker Nishikant Kamat, director-writer Nikkhil Advani and director-writer Ruchi Narain.