The controversy over the exclusion of Ravi Jadhav’s Nude and Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s S Durga refuses to die down. Six members of the selection committee of the International Film Festival of India’s Indian Panorama section that picked the titles have expressed their concern in a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani.
“We find it distressing that the two films were removed without any intimation, discussion or recourse to the Jury which has the final say according to the Indian Panorama Regulations,” wrote filmmakers Hari Vishwanath, Satarupa Sanyal, Ruchi Narain, Suresh Heblikar, Gopi Desai and film critic Sachin Chatte. The festival kicked off today in Panaji and will continue till November 28.
S Durga and Nude were among the 26 films selected by the 13-member committee, headed by filmmaker Sujoy Ghosh, for the Indian Panorama section. The final list of films announced on November 9 dropped the two titles without consulting or informing the committee members. Ghosh quit in protest, followed by screenwriter Apurva Asrani and filmmaker Gyan Correa.
Filmmaker Rahul Rawail has been named as the committee’s chairperson in Ghosh’s place.
The six signatories pointed out that they had raised the matter with the Directorate of Film Festivals and the National Film Development Corporation of India, which are organising the event, but they received no response. They expressed concern that the ministry’s move to remove S Durga and Nude would create a “negative image” for such a respectable body. “Nude and S Durga are relevant in terms of larger conversation on gender, as well as on women empowerment which we know you to be a strong advocate of,” the letter said. The communication stressed on the importance of finding a solution since “the issue has more far reaching implications for the sanctity of the system put into place after years of work by the ministry”.