September 13, 2016

India: Film on 1946 riots refused censor nod (Shiv Sahay Singh)

The Hindu

Kolkata, September 13, 2016

Film on 1946 riots refused censor nod

Shiv Sahay Singh

NEW AVATAR: FTII Chairman Gajendra Chauhan plays Jana Sangh founder S.P. Mukherjee in the film on the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946.— Photo: Ashoke Chakrabarty

A film on the Great Calcutta Killings of 1946, starring the chairperson of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) Gajendra Chauhan in the lead, has been refused certification by the Censor Board on grounds that the film was “extremely polarising and may create disharmony in the society.”

In its letter to the producers of the film earlier this week, the Board said the film “contains derogatory and false references about leaders of that era.” The references are related to Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Milan Bhowmik, the director, described the developments as “unfortunate” and told The Hindu that he would go to court.

According to the director, the film depicts the three-month period leading to August 16, 1946 when the infamous riots broke out in the city and lasted for three days. The bilingual film was to be released in Bengali and Hindi in September.

“What is surprising is that the posters of the film were cleared in the last week of August and the Bengali promo of the film on September 5.

“Three days later, on September 8, I got the letter saying that censor certificate cannot be given,” he said. Mr. Chauhan, who plays the character of Syama Prasad Mukherjee, the founder of Bharatiya Jana Sangh, forerunner of Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP], in the film, said that the issue had to be sorted out by historians.

“The Censor Board should have consulted historians on the issue. Now, when the filmmakers approach the court, the issue will have to be decided on the basis of expert advice,” said the FTII chairperson. Other than Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the other characters portrayed in the film include Jawaharlal Nehru, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy (the Prime Minister of undivided Bengal), Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, (the first Prime Minister of Bangladesh) and Gopal Chandra Mukherjee (Gopal Pantha).