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Play On Ambedkar: ‘Censor body sought unreasonable cuts to suppress Dalit voice’

They also claim the board wants to defer the play’s staging.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza | Mumbai | Updated: February 4, 2016 7:15:49 am
Dr BR Ambedkar Dr BR Ambedkar

The makers of Marathi play Jai Bhim Jai Bharat have claimed that Rangbhumi Prayog Parinirikshan Mandal, the censor board for Marathi plays, has demanded 10 “unreasonable” cuts that “suppress the Dalit voice”.

On Wednesday, the play’s writer Janardan Jadhav, producer Ratan Bansode and activist-narrator Subodh More alleged that the board, headed by Marathi actor Arun Nalawade, has asked them to remove phrases such as “Boddhmay Bharat”, mention of Ramabai Colony, Khairlanji and a poem by Marathi Dalit poet Namdeo Dhasal, among others.

The play, a depiction of an imagined conversation between Dr BR Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi and a Dalit activist, is a critical view of the contemporary Dalit movement and “addresses the current communal situation in the country”, say the makers who are planning to stage it on February 7 in Kalyan.

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They also claim the board wants to defer the play’s staging. “We wanted to stage it on January 26. We submitted it to the board on November 23, but received a reply on January 11 with 19 cuts. We wrote to them on January 13, demanding an explanation for the cuts suggested, but didn’t receive a reply. We met Arun Nalawade on January 20. He referred us to Ashok Samel, who cleared the script and he promised to send us a revised letter,” said More.

He added that when the letter arrived on January 27, it gave them a temporary certificate to stage the play once. However, the board retained most cuts suggested earlier, though their number was reduced to 10. A copy of the letter is with The Indian Express.

While Nalawade remained unavailable for comment, Samel, a Marathi playwright, said changes in the script have been suggested to “ensure no communal tension is caused.”

“There are references which can infuriate viewers. The mention of Ramabai Colony, for instance, upsets me. They have used the term ‘Mahar’, which is casteist when the correct term to be used is ‘Dalit’,” said Samel, adding that he asked the makers to remove “Boddhmay Bharat” because the phrase “doesn’t mean anything”.

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