Malayalam filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan who should be devoting all his time to the post-production work of his new film, is running in and out of his lawyer’s office. He has taken the I&B (Information and Broadcasting) Ministry and the IFFI (International Film Festival of India) to court for the seemingly cursory rejection of his film S Durga.
“It is very important for me to create an atmosphere of transparency in us Indian filmmakers’ workings with the Government. Otherwise, how do we know that what has happened to my film and to Ravi Jadhav’s film Nude at the IFFI won’t happen to other filmmakers? How can we make films under a cloud of suspicion, hostility and uncertainty?” asks Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, determined to make this fight to the finish, a battle for creative freedom for filmmakers across India.
Says Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, “They (the IFFI authorities) now say my film was rejected because I had submitted an uncensored version of the film. But this is a norm when films are sent to film festivals. Very often it is too early to procure censor certification for films that are sent to film festivals. Uncensored versions are customarily shown at festivals. If the I&B ministry had a problem with screening an uncensored version of my film at IFFI why didn’t they say so? They have not said anything to me. I only hear various explanations and allegations in the media.”
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s problem is not so much the fact that his film was so summarily rejected. It is the lack of information about the change. “Neither Ravi Jadhav nor I was informed about our films being pulled out. I’ve filed a writ petition in the Kerala High Court. It comes up for hearing on Thursday.”
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s contention is that he doesn’t trust the judgment of the people who decide what goes or doesn’t go into festivals. “The person helming the I&B ministry, is according to me, not qualified to decide the merit of our cinema. I don’t mind my film being rejected. But I need to be told why it is being rejected, and not just told anything. Please give a valid reason.”