S Durga, an international award-winning film by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan which will be screened for the jury at the International Film Festival of India on Monday. S Durga has made it to the IFFI at Panaji only at the prodding of the Kerala High Court, for it was on the directions of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry that it was first dropped from the screening schedule of the Indian Panorama Section, despite the jury’s approval.
, called Sexy Durga
before its makers changed the name, is a road journey film about a Muslim man and Hindu woman on the run in the middle of the night. The film, cleared by the Censor board with a U/A certificate, was made without a screenplay or script in place and has been called a marvel of improvisation by veteran reviewer Subhash K Jha who descibes it as an exploration of “the sexual dynamics of caste, gender and religious discrimination on a scarily dark desolate stretch of a road less travelled”.
Hindu organisations have said the film hurts their religious sensitivities and that it will add to the Padmavati
“We have been informed by IFFI that the film will be screened at 6 pm on Monday,” a jury member said on the condition of anonymity. The screening for the 10-member jury will be held at the festival grounds in Panaji. Mumbai-based director and screenwriter Ruchi Narain also confirmed the screening of the film for the jury. “We have been informed about the screening details by IFFI,” she said.
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The Sanal Kumar Sasidharan film was dropped from the screening schedule of the 48th International Film Festival of India, along with another film Nude
, triggering controversy. Three members, including the head of the jury panel Sujoy Ghosh, have resigned from their position in protest against the dropping of the two films, while six jury members have written to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry raising concerns over the dropping, after they were cleared by the festival jury.
After Sasidharan petitioned the Kerala High Court, the court directed IFFI to screen the film at the festival, after a censored version of the movie was screened for the jury. An appeal by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to stay the court direction was also rejected by the High Court on Friday.
Stalling tactics, says director Sasidharan
Sanal Sasidharan, who directed S Durga
, has termed as “stalling tactics” the decision of the jury of the International Film Festival Of India to watch the film on Monday evening. “The jury is supposed to watch my film on Monday evening. Only after that would a decision be taken on when it will be screened at IFFI. These seem like stalling tactics to me. I mean, the jury will watch the film on Monday evening. They will then come to their decision. The number of days left for the Festival is rapidly shrinking,” said Sasidharan.
However, he sees a silver lining. “At best,my film gets to be finally screened at the IFFI. I’d see that as a big victory for independent cinema in India. At worst, whatever the IFFI does with my film it now has a much larger audience waiting to see it when it is released commercially. For that I must thank the I&B ministry and the IFFI organizers.”
Ravi Jadhav whose Marathi film Nude
was also ousted from the IFFI was not able to join Sanal Sasidharan in the fight against arbitrary governmental intervention in the screening process. “Ravi must have had his constraints and decided against wasting his time in the legal process. I must say it has so far been a pretty frustrating fight for me,” admits Sasidharan.
The Centre on Friday suffered a setback as a Kerala High Court division bench refused to stay a single-judge order to screen a certified copy of Malayalam film S Durga
at the 48th IFFI in Goa. The Centre had on Thursday filed an appeal before the division bench. Opposing the single-judge order pronounced this week, the Centre’s counsel pointed out that including the film at this point of time at the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI) would disturb the schedule.
But the naysayers aren’t done yet
A day after IFFI reached out to S Durga
director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan following a Kerala High Court rap over screening of the controversial film, a Goa-based NGO on Saturday appealed to the festival’s organisers not to screen the film, saying it may hurt sentiments of Hindus.
The Goa-based Rashtrapremi Nagrik, in its memorandum to Sunil Tandon, the director of the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), said that IFFI would face ridicule if the “provocatively titled” movie if screened.
“You can’t censor imagination. In the film, the rituals of appeasing Goddess Durga walking over burning coal and piercing their skin with metal have been shown as bizarre rituals when they are very much a part of worship of the Goddess,” the memorandum read.
“The court may have given the direction to show this film in IFFI. We respect the court, but you can’t ignore the sentiments of crores of Hindus who worship Goddess Durga. Currently, there are issues going regarding the film Padmavati
. So, showing this film at IFFI will add in more controversies,” the statement added.
“At the beginning I thought I was fighting with the system. But later on I realised it is not the system, it is the petty ego between the ministry and the filmmaker. It should not be like this. Now it is like a nation declaring a war against the filmmaker for making a film,” Sasidharan said.
also represented this country at more than 50 film festivals across the globe and won 10 international awards for India and after all this hungama, our own film festival is treating the film as a hostile film and the filmmaker as an enemy. This is pathetic,” he said.
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