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4-min read

Ban or Not? No one Knows Why Two-Time National Award Winning Director's Film on Kashmir is Stalled from Release

It would be a great travesty to the young persons of Kashmir if this attempt at interaction between them and the rest of the country is denied, said filmmaker Ashvin Kumar.

Rakhi Bose | News18.com@theotherbose

Updated:January 31, 2019, 7:09 PM IST
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Ban or Not? No one Knows Why Two-Time National Award Winning Director's Film on Kashmir is Stalled from Release
It would be a great travesty to the young persons of Kashmir if this attempt at interaction between them and the rest of the country is denied, said filmmaker Ashvin Kumar.
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Can art exist beyond the fetters of politics and power structures? Two-time award-winning filmmaker Ashvin Kumar has, for over six months now, been pondering the same. His film on Kashmir has hit an impasse with the censor board of India.

'No Fathers in Kashmir' is a film based on the lives of two teenagers who fall in love while searching for their fathers in the conflict-ridden state. "It shows the daily trials of the people who live in the conflict-ridden state and it does so in a very disarming way through the eyes of kids who are growing up," Ashvin told News18 over the phone.

The filmmaker said, "It would be a great travesty to the young persons of Kashmir if this attempt at interaction between them and the rest of the country is denied". Ashvin believes that the millennials are the ones who are most invested in finding a peaceful solution and thus it was necessary to not alienate them.

Kumar has previously received the National Award for Inshallah, Football and Inshallah, Kashmir in 2010 and 2012. Both films had been given an A certificate. However, the maker insisted that his latest movie did not contain any 'adult' content. "It is based on teenagers. How can we ban them from watching it? We insist on a U/A certification."

The film had been submitted to the Central Board of Film Certification in July. Several emails, requests and two review meetings later, the director remains unsure if his film will get to see the light of day. According to the filmmaker, the CBFC at first delayed the screening of the film, then said it would be given an 'Adult' certificate given the film made certain recommended cuts.

After the maker's appeal to the Film Certificate of Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) in November who sent back the film to CBFC for a second review, the verdict remained the same - 'A' certificate given and certain cuts made. However, the cuts recommended this time were very different from the ones referred to in the previous review.

"What I want to know is why there is no consistency in these verdicts. First, they found some things offensive and stalled the film. Then they came up with an almost new set of objections," said Anshuman Jha, who has acted in the film and was part of the last meeting. "At the end of the meeting, Vivek Agnihotri told me that we should get the suggested cuts or go to the courts. He told me that it was what he would do."

Anshuman also tweeted about the same earlier.

Agnihotri is heading the second review committee deciding the fate of the film and has categorically denied 'banning' the film's release on social media. In a tweet, the filmmaker and author said, "I cleared the film (a) long time ago in the revising committee with an A certificate. He is absolutely free to release the film".

However, the film's cast and crew maintained that it has not yet received any certification and that Agnihotri's tweets are just a smokescreen. Ashvin even posted the order that they had received from CBFC which clearly stated that the Review committee did not find the film fit for public consumption and its recommendations reflected the same.

"They have not certified it," confirmed Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nundy who is representing the film. "They said that it MAY be certified 'A' IF the cuts were made. So even if the filmmakers made the cuts CBFC sought there was uncertainty as to whether they'd be allowed to screen the film" she said. Nundy added that in the absence of a certificate, the film was as good as banned as it could not be played anywhere. The lawyer, however, stressed that they would not accept an 'A' certificate.

"There are precedents to follow. 'Haider' was given a 'U' certificate. So was 'Textures of Loss', the High Court said of that film that a filmmaker has a right to his own narrative, even with a subject as sensitive as violence in Kashmir. The Supreme Court has said that the solution for thorny problems like communalism, caste etcetera will come from young people watching films like 'Father, Son and Holy War'. Why would the CBFC treat this film against established law?" Nundy asked.

The lawyer added that they have appealed to the Tribunal for a U/A certificate.

News18 reached out to CBFC for clarification, their response is as yet awaited.

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