In what is being seen as yet another instance of governmental censorship of creative expression in film, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry (IFFI) has refused to exempt two films, Malayalam film ‘Sexy Durga’ and Marathi film ‘Nude’ from the 48th edition of the film festival. Although the jury had submitted the list to the ministry on September 21-22, but when the line was made public, these two films were suspiciously missing from the list, leaving a disappointed IFFI chief Sujoy Ghosh with no choice but to resign from the post. ‘S Durga’ director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan and ‘Nude’ director Ravi Jadhav too are reported to be extremely shaken over the removal of their films from the Panorama section. For all those who are clueless as to why has ‘S Durga’ and ‘Nude’ been banned, here’s a quick gist on the film for you to decide if at all it even violates/hurts any sentiments.
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Malayalam movie 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 film begins with Durga anxiously waiting on a deserted road, somewhere in Chennai, waiting for Kabeer. Once he arrives, they discuss ways to get to a railway station. They appear to be eloping and take a lift in a car with two men.
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The two are inebriated and what transpires through the journey is what forms the crux of the film. As they travel, one of the men continues to ogle at Durga who, at one point, wants to get down from the car. The men, of course, don’t allow it stating that it is unsafe for Durga and Kabeer. Sasidharan’s skill is such that he is able to express fear without resorting to violence. A master of the macabre, he uses the notion of fear very smartly. The men in the car continue reassuring the two they are safe but will not allow them to leave the car.
The hapless “Durga” encounters a cross section of the society through the rest of the night. Parallel to the journey of Durga, another mysterious event inter-cuts in the film. In a Kerala village, devotees perform ‘Garudan Thookkam, a ritual art form submitted as a reward for the problems solved in the abode of Goddess Kali, who represents Goddess Durga’s personified wrath & embodied fury.”
On the other hand, National Film Award winning director Ravi Jadhav’s ‘Nude’ is the story of a poor woman who works as a nude model for art students. The story’s idea comes from the direstor’s own experience as a student of Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai.
While ‘Sexy Durga’ won the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, it faced a lot of trouble back home. In February this year, Sasidharan wrote on Facebook that he was getting threats from a man claiming to be Rahul Shrivastava, president of Hindu Swabhiman Sangh. Shrivastava has a problem with the word ‘Sexy’ being placed before ‘Durga’ in the film’s title. Meanwhile, the film was in the news when it was refused censor exemption to be screened at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2017 as the Information and Broadcasting ministry concluded it “may affect the law and order as it hurts the religious sentiments”.
‘Sexy Durga’s problems were far from over. In October this year came another bouncer when it ran into rough weather with the censor board. The film got U/A after 21 audio mutes and a name change — ‘S Durga’. The film is now expected to release in November or December this year as ‘S Durga’, not ‘Sexy Durga’.