‘Battle for Banaras’ filmmaker rues CBFC’s ‘lack of clarity’

Mumbai, Oct 7 (IANS) Over a month after refusing a censor certificate to Kamal Swaroop’s documentary “Battle for Banaras”, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is yet to officially communicate the reason for the film’s rejection, says producer Manu Kumaran.

The documentary, which was screened for the Censor Board on August 27, is inspired by Nobel laureate Elias Canetti’s book “Crowds and Power” and captures the excitement, the madness and the noise behind the high-octane 2014 poll battle in the holy city of Banaras.

It was officially invited for a screening at the 17th Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, but the invitation was withdrawn in the absence of clarity on the censor certificate.

“This lack of clarity and communication from the censor board is irresponsible. It’s outrageous that the censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani has the time to run down the film in the media but has no time to do his duty of communicating officially the reason for the rejection of the film,” Kumaran of “Bombay Boys”, “Yellow” and “Storage 24” fame, said in a statement.

Kumaran said that the film is “neither pro-Arvind Kejriwal nor against any politician.”

“It is not a political satire. Kamal Swaroop has only documented what happened in the general election,” he said, adding that the filmmakers “will fight this unjust ruling of the censor board.”

He feels the ideal situation would be if CBFC representatives “officially issue a letter stating the reasons for rejection.”

“This delay tactic by the censor is both unwanted and unprecedented,” added Kumaran.

Director Kamal Swaroop said the film “is an attempt to understand the crowd phenomenon, anthropologically, without getting into voter politics”.

He also said that people are talking not just about Kejriwal and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the film, but also about 40 other candidates across political parties.

“Of course the main face-off is between Modi and Kejriwal with the latter having a slight edge till the polarisation happened. Then, the Muslim votes went to him while Modi swept the Hindu votes, including the Dalits,” he added.

The documentary, which lays bare the equation and politics of India, was shot over a 44-day schedule in Banaras during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

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