The Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to clear filmmaker Kamal Swaroop’s latest documentary ‘Battle of Banaras’.
The documentary’s screening before the Censor Board’s examining committee took place on Thursday. Four board members, including its regional officer Raju Vaidya, were present. While Vaidya refused to comment on the matter.
CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, who hasn’t watched the film, later said: “My officers told me that it’s a political satire. It speaks against all politicians and is pro-Kejriwal in the way it has been shot. The people who reviewed it are experienced enough to know what is right and wrong. They found the kind of language that has been used in the film absolutely unsuitable for public viewing. It is inflammatory and flouts the CBFC guidelines.”
Vaidya communicated the decision verbally to K Venkataraman, associate producer of Battle of Banaras. He was the only representative of the film present at the screening. The official letter of communication is expected to reach the producers in a few days.
Defending his film, Swaroop said it is strictly non-political and doesn’t take any sides. Taking a cue from German author Eleas Canetti’s book Crowds and Power, the two-hour documentary captures the movement of crowds and how political leaders manipulate them.
“I have nothing to do with AAP or the BJP. It’s none of my business as a filmmaker. The film follows the festivities around the elections. I have observed the candidates fighting the election as a physical phenomenon,” Swaroop said.
The filmmaker, who won a National award for his film ‘Rangbhoomi’ in 2014, said, “We have filmed a number of speeches and edited them in such a manner that one is able to see through any political rhetoric, the manipulative punchlines. But it’s a documentary and it’s factual.”
The fact that the film, which has been screened at the Montreal Film Festival, “doesn’t show reverence to Modi” might have turned the CBFC members against it, Swaroop added.
Nihalani accused Swaroop of lying to the media: “He says the film has been rejected by the revising committee. The makers are still have the option to go to the revising committee.”
Swaroop has decided to take the documentary to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).