No IFFI screening for 'S Durga', CBFC orders reexamination

Sanal Sasidharan

Organisers of the Goa festival informed the censor board on Tuesday that the title card of the movie bore the name S### Durga (instead of just S Durga) In a letter sent to Shaji Mathews of NIV Art Movies, under whose banner the movie was made, the censor board said that this "has totally different implications" and effectively undermined the objective of changing the title. In the letter, Dr Patibha A, regional officer of the CBFC in Thiruvananthapuram, says that the U/A certificate was given to S Durga after the makers agreed to certain changes requested by the board, including the deletion of specific offensive words and a change of the film's title from the original, Sexy Durga.

After days of delay, the IFFI's Indian Panorama jury will view the controversial film S Durga on Monday evening, a jury member said on Sunday. "They are just delaying to ensure that the film is not screened at IFFI this year", Sasidharan said, also calling the inclusion of new members to the jury panel as "illegal". The move would seem like a last minute attempt from the part of the IFFI to evade a possible contempt of court notice from the Kerala High Court, which had directed them to screen the film.

"We have been informed by IFFI that the film will be screened at 6 pm on Monday", the jury member said on the condition of anonymity. But as of now, the film can not be screened in the IFFK either.

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"In this connection, I am directed to inform you that the above film will be re-examined under the provision of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, with the date and venue being notified to you soon", said the letter, which was addressed to Shaji Mathew, the producer of the film. At that time, the film's title was Sexy Durga. It further states that issues related to certification were raised. Vats, however, feels these spaces are steadily shrinking within the country, "This is a reality that we are facing as artistes every day, and the fear is that most of it is translating into an auto-censorship". The jury, headed by filmmaker Rahul Rawail, watched the film and after a meeting of four-five hours told mediapersons that "it had conveyed its decision to the ministry", which will inform the court. They want a straight jacketed meaning and that will never happen... They are imposing silence on us. It is an unusual procedure, totally illegal.

The director also said, that IFFI's battle against a filmmaker like himself, will deter young filmmakers from taking up uncomfortable issues and platforms for independent films like IFFI will take a beating. "This will become the debate of artistic freedom", he said. The director had moved the Kerala High Court after the movie was pulled out from the IFFI by the ministry.

At the ongoing festival, several filmmakers contemplated pulling out their films from the festival as a sign of protest when Sasidharan's film was unceremoniously removed from the Indian Panorama section.

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