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Fighting for a Voice

Ashvin Kumar issues an open letter to Prasoon Joshi after his film, No Fathers in Kashmir, hits censor roadblock

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'Souz |
Updated: November 15, 2018 12:08:14 am
National Award winning flimmaker Ashvin Kumar, No fathers in Kashmir, CBFC, Prasoon Joshi, Kashmiri women, Kashmir issues, Kashmir militancy, Indian Express  A working still of No Fathers in Kashmir.

After his film, No Fathers in Kashmir, was awarded an ‘A’ certification by the revising committee, National Award-winning filmmaker Ashvin Kumar issued an open letter to the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Prasoon Joshi. In the letter, Kumar pointed out that an adult certification for an independent film is “as good as banning a film”. “I recalled the somewhat comic ritual that saw Inshallah Football, my first film on Kashmir, being banned by the CBFC. After protest, given an A certificate and then going on to win a National Award (2011). Followed by my next film, Inshallah Kashmir, in the following year also being banned. And, after protest, being given an A certificate and it too winning a National Award (2012),” read an excerpt from his letter.

National Award winning flimmaker Ashvin Kumar, No fathers in Kashmir, CBFC, Prasoon Joshi, Kashmiri women, Kashmir issues, Kashmir militancy, Indian Express  National Award-winning filmmaker Ashvin Kumar.

Talking about his latest project, which he says is a coming-of-age film about two 16-year-olds, “with no violence, sex, drug abuse, vulgarity or nudity”, Kumar says he is stumped about why the film has been given an adult certification. “I don’t know the reason; they (the CBFC) would be able to tell best,” he told The Indian Express. “Like you, I can only assume that the decision is a function of the fact that the film is based on Kashmir.”

A story of hope and forgiveness, told through the young protagonists, No Fathers in Kashmir, says Kumar, talks about the psychological and social dilemmas of Kashmiri women upon whom the weight of the conflict falls. “Keeping the conflict shrouded in propaganda and misinformation that dominates national discourse creates demonic, hyperbolic misleading representations of a people who we would like to think of as fellow citizens,” he added in the letter. Referring to this argument, Kumar quipped, “Why are we unwilling to address the contours of this issue squarely?”

In the letter he also points out that films such as Rang De Basanti that Joshi was part of, and which uphold the country’s political realities, was awarded a U certificate. As was Pankaj Butalia’s Textures of Loss, based on the stone-pelting issue in Kashmir. Based on these earlier certifications, Kumar hopes that his film can also be cleared with a U certificate, making it accessible to a wider audience.

Kumar’s struggle with the CBFC, he says, has now lasted almost three months. And the A certificate, too, comes after a demand of several cuts. However, before he approaches the Tribunal, the filmmaker is keen that CBFC officials, perhaps including Joshi, will engage with him through dialogue. “It is within your hands to avoid an FCAT hearing, save the honorable high courts… time, spare me the time, expense and trauma of the process,” he concluded in the letter.

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