Malayalam filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan has moved the Kerala High Court against the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and officials of the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) for “illegal, arbitrary and unjust exclusion” of his movie S Durga from the final selection.
“I have filed a writ petition before the Hon’ble High Court of Kerala against this unprecedented, illogical and unconstitutional action taken by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Sasidharan wrote on his Facebook page.
His film — earlier titled Sexy Durga— is one of the two projects that were among the jury recommended list for the Indian Panorama section of IFFI, but did not make it to the final list, approved by the ministry.
In protest against the exclusion, filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh, who led the feature film jury, resigned.
“The resignation of Sujoy Ghosh, the jury chairman, is a bold and courageous act,” said Sasidharan, who has mentioned in his petition that “the decision of jury is final and binding as per Panorama Regulations”.
He said the ministry “has not understood the context and setting of the film”.
“The title is now amended as ‘S Durga’ and the film has been given a U/A certification by CBFC, implying that there is no objectionable content in the film. Hence, there is no valid ground for excluding the film of the petitioner,” Sasidharan said.
According to the director, the petition “has been taken into file and posted for the respondents’ reply” to Thursday.
The other film to be excluded is National Award-winning director Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi film “Nude”.
Sasidharan pointed out how in the Marathi film industry filmmakers were planning to boycott IFFI.
Acclaimed filmmaker Umesh Kulkarni of “Deool” and “Highway” fame made an appeal via Facebook: “Sumitra Bhave, the director of ‘Kasav’, the film which got the President’s Gold Medal for best feature film, is going to withdraw her film from Panorama and she won’t attend the festival in support of the protest against the unjust decision by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
“There are nine Marathi films in Panorama this year. If all the directors take this stand, I am sure a pressure can be built and the two films ‘Nude’ and ‘S Durga’ can be included again… The freedom to express is non-negotiable.”