THE makers of An Insignificant Man, a documentary that chronicles the rise of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, have been directed by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to get a no-objection certificate (NoC) from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Kejriwal and former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit. The board has also asked them to remove references of the Congress and BJP in the documentary, which is conceived and directed by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla and produced by Anand Gandhi.
Responding to the CBFC directive, Ranka said, “We are definitely not going to ask for NoCs from the PM or the CM. It would set a wrong precedent, apart from doing something unethical. It is not in the purview of the CBFC to protect the feelings of politicians. It is bizarre that one has to take their permission to critique or document their political activities.”
Even though the documentary is marketed as a “political thriller and drama”, Ranka said they had not anticipated any censor trouble. “If the people or politicians in the documentary are saying something, that does not mean that we are endorsing these statements. It makes for an interesting character study. Our attempt has also been to accommodate different readings of their statements and moves,” she says about the film, pitched as “a moving cinematic journey through the narrow lanes of Delhi’s slums to the closed corridors of political power”.
However, the team of An Insignificant Man is yet to decide on its next step. “We are still figuring it out. The matter is confusing for us and we are trying to understand the legalities,” says Shukla, adding that the CBFC is a certification body and should not try to censor the film. The CBFC, he says, is functioning like “a watchdog of politicians”. “If Kejriwal has a problem with the film, he would approach the court,” the co-director adds. The making of the film was a gruelling process with its production cost raised through a crowdfunding campaign launched in 2014. The 100-minute film has been distilled from 400 hours of behind-the-scenes footage shot over a course of two years with a fly-on-the-wall approach.
The film has travelled to a number of Indian as well as international film festivals, after it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2016. “After having a very heartening experience of showing it in international festivals, we want to release it theatrically in India. We would have decided on a release date after getting the certificate,” says Ranka.