Censor Board Intervenes to Ensure 'S Durga' Won't Be Screened at IFFI

The CBFC says the version of the film shown to the festival's jury violated certain rules, and hence the film has to be re-examined by the board.

Panaji: The censor board has ordered a re-examination of Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s film S Durga, derailing its court-ordered screening at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which ends today in Goa.

A screening of the censored version of the film was held for the jury last evening here and in a letter dated today, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) wrote to the producers asking them to resubmit the movie, which was earlier given a U/A certificate.

The bone of contention seems to be the hashtags that follow the letter “S” in the revised title of the movie, which was earlier named Sexy Durga.

“It appears that you have prima facie, deliberately violated the Rule 33 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983 and hence invocation of Section 5E(1) (i) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 may be considered. In this connection, I am directed to inform you that the above film will be re-examined under the provision of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, with the date and venue being notified to you soon,” said the letter, which was addressed to Shaji Mathew, the producer of the film.

The letter stated that the board had “received complaints from the IFFI jury at Goa over the title of the film”.

According to the letter, the director had shown S### Durga on the title card, which the board says “has totally different implications and are effectively undermining and attempting to defeat the very basis of the title registration and changes effected thereby”.

Also read: Unprecedented, Unconstitutional Action by I&B Ministry to Remove Two Films From IFFI List, Says ‘S Durga’ Director

The CBFC said the makers cannot exhibit the film further until the board reexamines it. It said a suitable date and time will be conveyed to the makers soon.

Immediately after the CBFC order, IFFI director Sunit Tandon wrote to Sasidharan, notifying him that the movie will not be showcased due to the CBFC’s intervention.

“This is to inform you that all steps were taken to ensure compliance with the hon’ble court’s order and a screening of the certified version of your film ‘S Durga’ was arranged last evening for the feature film jury for the Indian Panorama 2017 as duly constituted by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. Following the screening certain issues related to the certification of the film with reference to the title of the film were raised. This was referred to the CBFC for clarification. In response to the queries, CBFC has issued the orders attached herewith. As a consequence to the orders of CBFC, the film cannot be exhibited till the issues are resolved,” he wrote.

The film was previously dropped from the final IFFI list by the information and broadcasting ministry, prompting the director to move the Kerala high court. The court ruled in Sasidharan’s favour and directed the ministry to screen the film at the festival. The ministry tried to obtain a stay order on the Kerala high court’s decision, but it was denied by the court.

Earlier in the day, Sasidharan said a majority of members of the Indian Panorama jury voted in favour of his film screened after watching its censored version last night. “I got to know that seven of the members were in favour of the screening of S Durga, but three new members on the panel as well one of the old members opposed the screening,” the director claimed.

The seven members – Nikkhil Advani, Hari Viswanath, Ruchi Narain, Sachin Chatte, Suresh Heblikar, Nishikant Kamat and Satarupa Sanyal – later released a statement noting that they “strongly recommend” the film be screened at the film festival.

The three new members – Sudhir Chaudhary of Zee News, Satish Kaushik and Vivek Agnihotri – were inducted in the jury after its chairman Sujoy Ghosh and members Apurva Asrani and Gyan Correa resigned in protest over the exclusion of S Durga and Nude from the festival. Filmmaker Rahul Rawail was appointed the new chairman of the Indian Panorama section jury.

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