Quality, not morality, should be the benchmark
Dropping Nude and S Durga from IFFI has denied viewers our best works
‘P eople 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.