Jury chief quits; ministry had said ‘S Durga’ hurt sentiments
New Delhi: Triggering a controversy days before the 48th edition of the International Film Festival of India opens to the public, filmmaker and jury chairman of IFFI, Sujoy Ghosh, tendered his resignation. It was seen as a mark of protest and comes close on the heels of the ministry of information and broadcasting dropping two films, ‘Nude’ and ‘S Durga’, from the Indian Panorama section of the festival that begins on November 20.
Malayalam filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s ‘S Durga’ and Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi film ‘Nude’ were turned down by the ministry after being selected by the IFFI jury. On the one hand, while Sasidharan moved Kerala HC against non-inclusion of his film, sources in the government said it was customary for any uncensored film scheduled to be screened at the festival to seek an exemption certificate from the ministry. In the case of ‘Sexy Durga’, whose title the filmmaker later changed to ‘S Durga’, government sources said permission had already been denied at the Mumbai Association for Moving Images (MAMI) in October. The film was eventually played at the festival after being given a U/A certificate by the CBFC, which suggested a change in the title to ‘S Durga’ and the deletion of “vulgar” words from the film.
Sources said the ministry had officially communicated its decision, in writing, to deny permission to ‘S Durga’ on September 19, 2017. The letter said, “Ministry has been receiving several grievances against the title and is of the view that it may affect the law and order as it hurts religious sentiments, Durga being a principal Hindu Goddess and the applicant may seek certification of film in normal course from CBFC.”
Ministry sources also said that while the IFFI director had submitted ‘S Durga’ in the feature and non-feature films categories respectively, it had been conveyed to the festival director that both ‘Nude’ and ‘S Durga’ should be replaced with two other films. Jadhav’s ‘Nude,’ official sources said, was rejected because certain postproduction work on the film remained to be completed, and because the film was found to be “not technically complete.”