On Tuesday, the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), which comes to an end on Tuesday evening will not screen Malayalam film S Durga as the Indian Panorama jury that saw the movie on Monday evening escalated some issues regarding its certification. The decision of government-sponsored festival came following the Kerala High Court directed IFFI and the Information and Broadcasting ministry to screen the globally-acclaimed film once the jury saw its certified version.
The jury led by filmmaker Rahul Rawail watched the film and after a meeting of four-five hours told mediapersons that “it had conveyed its decision to the ministry”, which will update the court. There had been suspense going on over the jury’s decision since morning. Just some minutes ago, the film’s director Sanal Sasidharan was notified that the will not be screened by IFFI director Sunil Tandon over an email. Mentioning the reason behind this development, Sunil wrote, “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 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.”
The CBFC cited that Tandon mentioned in the mail that the IFFI jury criticized film’s title on the title card was shown by the filmmaker as ‘S### Durga’ instead of ‘S Durga’. The Thiruvananthapuram censor board wrote to the film’s producer Shaji Mathew that “…(Where the # means rectangular white boxes) which has totally different implications and are effectively undermining and attempting to defeat the very basis of the title registration and the changes effected thereby. It appears you have prima facie deliberately violated the Rule 33 of the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. In this connection, I am directed to uniform you that the above film will be re-examined under the provision of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. Till then, you may not exhibit the film”.
The issue regarding S Durga first came in September when I&B ministry rejected the approval for its screening at the Mumbai Film Festival, which was expected to be held in October. The film’s title was Sexy Durga at that point in time. The filmmakers approached the censor board, who advised the makers to remove the word sexy from its title and cut some words from the dialogues to get the certificate. Later, the title was changed to ‘S Durga’ and the film finally got screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. Later, the film was selected by the Indian Panorama jury for competition at IFFI. But I&B ministry decided to remove the film from the final list without informing the then jury chairman Sujoy Ghosh. In order to show protest against the ministry’s decision, Ghosh and two other members of jury resigned from their respective post.