We condemn the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s denial of giving censor exemption for three documentaries from showing in International Documentary & Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) on 16th June at Thiruvananthapuram. It is unfortunate, unwanted as well as an expression of cultural intolerance only. In this period of bans such a move from MIB is neither unexpected nor surprising but it is shocking to know that the Ministry is not even bothered to give a proper, valid and reasonable explanation for not giving censor exemption for these films. These three documentaries will have politically disagreeing content for Ministry but banning them is nothing but a cowardly act. Banning is a kind of murder. Banning an artistic performance is exposing the baselessness of counter arguments that establishments have. Last year, too, the MIB denied permission for two documentaries and till now gave no reason for doing so.
All three documentaries are about those incidents that can disturb the rightwing Hinduthwa. “March March March” is about JNU student movement of last year directed by Kathu Luckose who is a student there. The film is portraying the eventual development of the movement through different events and interviews. The second one is “The Unbearable Being of Lightness” directed by P N Ramachandra. It is about Rohit Vimula of HCU. “In the Shade of Fallen Chinar” directed by N C Fazil and Shawn Sebastian tries to draw how art takes the form of resistance in a conflict-ridden society. The Ministry is giving a vague explanation that these documentaries will trigger communal intolerance. Last year Ministry denied permission for Jayan Cherian’s “Ka Bodyscpes” and Majid Majidi’s “Muhammed” without citing any reason. The ban advocacy in art field of this government is reaching new heights through this act.
It was in 2015 Home Ministry banned Leslee Udwin’s ‘India’s Daughter’ by citing reasons such as ‘victim’s parents will be upset”, “film would affect tourism” etc. We saw the ‘mob’ banning of ‘Mathorubagan’ by Perumal Murugan. Remember, ban anything that the “rulers” do not like is exactly what fascism (more than dictatorship) about. Tolerance towards anti-establishment artistic performances is one way of scaling the heights of democracy one nation has.
These three documentaries are tributes to those youngsters who joined hands in order to question the orthodoxy and false as well as fake national honour. They never scared about lathi-charges and water cannons. They are spirited with idea of freedom and strengthened with unity. Your administrative dictations will not pour that revolutionary fire. Instead of becoming the inmates of dustbins (of history), rise to the maturity of tolerance and comradeship. In the contemporary world, it is spaces like film festivals exposes the scale of democracy that society enjoys. It is better to not approach them with your cultural intolerance.