India’s biggest and Asia’s oldest film festival, International Film Festival of India (IFFI), is one of the most significant film festivals in Asia. Held annually, currently in the state of Goa, the festival aims at providing a common platform for the cinemas of the world. Although, the festival stands on the basis of expression of thoughts via motion picture, this year the scenario is slightly different.
The controversy ensued when two movies, S Durga and Nude, were banned from being screened in the 48th International Film Festival. Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s film S.Durga (previously titled Sexy Durga) starring Rajashri Despande and Kannan Nair, chronicles the plight of two people, Durga and Kabeer, as they set out late in the night to catch a train.
The story revolves around their possible elopement and eventual consequences. There is no connection whatsoever with any Goddess, but people associated the name of the protagonist with Goddess Durga and took offense.
Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi film Nude is the story of a poor woman who works as a nude model for art students. The story’s idea comes from the director’s own experience as a student at Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai, reports Scroll.
Nude is a film with a strong message of feminism and Ravi Jadhav has sought explanation from the Ministry as to why was it removed. A senior official said that the movie was incomplete and hence, it has been excluded from screening.
Since 2016 uncensored films are allowed to be screened in film festivals. However, the producers of such uncensored films need to get an “exemption certificate” from the Ministry which was denied in the case of both the films, while 11 others in the list of 26 were granted the same.
Sujoy Ghosh, Gyan Correa and writer Apurva Asrani resigned from the jury. IFFI Steering Committee Member, Vani Tripathi Tikoo spoke in defence of the unanimous decision as she stated, “All the films that are being screened at IFFI go through the Ministry. Approval has to be taken from the Ministry. S Durga did not comply with censorship norms and Nude was incomplete.”
Recent sources stated that Vivek Agnihotri, chairman of the preview committee of IFFI, came out in support of I&B ministry and said that the controversy over dropping S Durga and Nude from the final list of 26 feature films issued by the Smriti Irani-headed department for the Panorama section of the 48th International Film Festival of India is “completely false”.
Meanwhile S.Durga director, Sanal Sasidharan filed a written petition in the Kerala High Court against the Ministry and festival officials. His movie has won awards at many International film festivals and he is unsure why IFFI is refusing to screen it.