The Film and Television Institute of India on Thursday cancelled the screening of a documentary on the Kabir Kala Manch allegedly after coming under pressure from a right-wing group, PTI reported. The Kabir Kala Manch is a cultural group that uses music, plays and poetry to spread messages against caste.
In a statement, the FTII Students’ Association claimed the documentary, made by final-year student Harishankar Nachimuthu, was not screened after threats from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, which is the student wing of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The students claimed that the administration cited security reasons for the cancellation.
However, FTII authorities denied the allegation and said the screening was cancelled as students had not booked the theatre in advance. “The first screening of a student’s film is normally only for internal viewing and assessment, and not for general public, as various pre-requisites like CBFC [Central Board of Film Certification] certificate, logistics, etc, have to be met before outside public is invited for screening,” FTII Director Bhupendra Kainthola told PTI.
Nachimuthu did not inform FTII authorities and publicised the screening on social media, said Kainthola.
The ABVP has also denied the allegations. “We are not aware of this issue,” said an unnamed functionary of the organisation.
The Students’ Association, however, said the movie content was scrutinised and approved by faculty members. “The content of the documentary that is said to have caused issue was approved, scrutinised and mentored by the faculties of the institute,” the statement read. “The above mentioned organisation [ABVP] has a history [of] being detrimental to freedom of expression.”
The students’ association said the documentary film was made on the music group Kabir Kala Manch, and that the ABVP has raised concerned over its “Maowadi content”. “The Manch is not a banned organisation and the public performances documented in the film had happened with police permission,” it said.
The Kabir Kala Manch was one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune on December 31, which was followed by caste violence in the nearby village of Bhima Koregaon the next day.
The documentary was made a year ago. “It is not on the Manch, but about an artist from the group and how she looks at the Ambedkarite movement,” said Nachimuthu.