Director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan is miffed for being denied permission to screen his film ‘Sexy Durga’ at the upcoming Jio MAMI with Star 2017. The movie has been refused censor exemption to be screened at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival that is scheduled for October 2017. The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) feels the film Sexy Durga could hurt ‘religious sentiments’ and has gone ahead and denied special exemption for the Malayalam film.

Though Sanal Kumar’s movie has earned accolades at festivals across the world and is the first Indian film in 23 years to have won laurels since the Tiger Awards were introduced at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR), the director is having to fight it out in his own country to get the Censor Board to approve his internationally awarded movie.

Commenting on the denial of special exemption by the I&B Ministry, the Malayalam filmmaker in his Facebook post said, “This is the second time the ministry is denying the application by the festival. Festivals had been the only option for such films made without fear of censoring in India. Now they are bringing festivals also under the radar of censorship and majoritarian scrutiny. This should be strongly condemned.” Though MAMI has not commented on the issue yet, its application for the exemption had been rejected both the times it had applied.

But filmmaker Sasidharan has not lost all hope. He has applied for a certificate from the censor board. “I am waiting for the censor board’s opinion. I am going to fight for it, because it’s a question of freedom of expression, the freedom of making art… I won’t sit quietly. I will go to the court and make an appeal and do whatever I can do to fight this,” Sasidharan said.

 

It is learned that the exemption application by Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival with Star to screen Sexy Durga has been…

Posted by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan on Sunday, September 24, 2017

On the issue of the title Sexy Durga, Sasidharan has in several interviews made it very clear that the word ‘Durga’ is simply the name of the character who is the protagonist of the film. Durga is a homeless girl and her name in the film has nothing to do with religion. The apparently upset director went to the extent of calling India “a land that’s becoming like Iran”.

“What I mean is, Durga is a common name in India. It’s not only the goddess. There are many humans (named Durga) you can see, and they may not even be treated like human beings; when they need help, people don’t care. But when a name (film title) comes like this, then suddenly people make a hue and cry and they say, ‘Our religious sentiments are being hurt’,” the filmmaker said. “It’s ridiculous and hypocritical. I wanted to bring this hypocrisy forward,” Sanil said.

This entire episode is being seen as yet another instance of censorship by the government of creative expression in film, because without the exemption Sanal Kumar will not be able to screen his film at the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival. In order for a film to be screened at film festivals, it needs an exemption from the I&B Ministry without certification from the Central Board of Film Certification.

The film cast includes Rajshri Deshpande, Bilas Nair, Arun Sol, Sujish KS and Vishnu Vedh. 

First Published | 28 September 2017 1:02 PM
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