Qual­ity, not moral­ity, should be the bench­mark

Drop­ping Nude and S Durga from IFFI has de­nied view­ers our best works

Hindustan Times (Bathinda) - - COMMENT -

‘Peo­ple can judge for them­selves. I am not mak­ing films for the In­dian gov­ern­ment.’ Clearly, the in­for­ma­tion and broad­cast­ing min­istry does not agree with these sen­ti­ments ex­pressed by SK Sasid­ha­ran, whose film Sexy Durga has been knocked off the Goa film fes­ti­val. The film was cleared by the jury as had been an­other film, Nude, which did not meet with the ap­proval of the I&B man­darins. This has led to the res­ig­na­tion of the in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­val jury chair­man film­maker Su­joy Ghosh. This is the at­ti­tude which has pre­vented In­dia mak­ing a big­ger splash in in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­vals. Pre­sum­ably, the Vic­to­rian sen­si­bil­i­ties of the I&B of­fi­cials were of­fended by the ti­tles of the two films though the Durga in ques­tion is not a god­dess but a young North In­dian woman who mar­ries a south­erner; Nude is about women mod­els who pose for artists.

It is in­ter­est­ing to note that while the I&B min­istry is busy de­cid­ing what we should or should not watch, other coun­tries with far stricter moral codes have pushed the en­ve­lope when it comes to ad­dress­ing po­ten­tially provoca­tive sub­jects. Sev­eral Ira­nian films on ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, a topic which is considered off lim­its in the coun­try, such as Be Like Oth­ers and Cir­cum­stances, have made it big at in­ter­na­tional films fes­ti­vals.

Apart from touchy of­fi­cials, we also face the added prob­lem of the so-called sen­si­tiv­i­ties of in­ter­est groups. The movie Pad­ma­vati has run into trouble in Ra­jasthan with vested in­ter­ests ask­ing that the film be cleared by them. In which event, there is no point in hav­ing a cen­sor board or film fes­ti­val jury at all. Films should only be judged by their qual­ity. They should not be sub­jected to the moral stan­dards of those who have no ex­per­tise in the mat­ter. View­ers both in In­dia and abroad de­serve to see the best of In­dian cinema. Drop­ping these two films de­nies the au­di­ence this op­por­tu­nity.

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