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Ban on screenings at Kerala fest unfortunate: Jahnu Barua

Wednesday, Jun 21, 2017,11:19 IST By joji A A A

Guwahati | Asserting that freedom of expression is important, eminent filmmaker Jahnu Barua Tuesday termed as “very unfortunate” the Centre’s decision not to allow the screening of three films at a Kerala festival.
“It is very unfortunate. As a filmmaker, personally, I do not like censorship at all. We always want that films should be shown. Freedom of expression is very important,” he told reporters here.
He, however, said as he had not watched the three documentaries, he did not know why they were not allowed to to be screened.
The three films were about the suicide of Dalit research scholar Rohit Vemula, student protests at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) and the unrest in Kashmir through the eyes of young artists.
“We filmmakers are very emotional people. We cannot help it. We get hurt. It comes out in terms of protest. Sometimes it may not be a likable protest. We expect the government to understand us,” the National Award-winning filmmaker said.
Giving the example of Anand Patwardhan, Barua said the veteran documentary filmmaker’s movies were banned initially, but after legal battles, all the films were allowed by the court.
Barua said it is also necessary to see that people do not take advantage of freedom or misuse it and it also needs to be addressed.
“Sometimes something goes wrong, people take advantage both sides — this way or that way. We get to see a very unwanted result,” he said.
While every festival has certain responsibilities that they need to look into, the government has a responsibility to look after every citizen of the country and accordingly they need to take decisions, he added.
When asked if that meant documentaries should not be made on controversial issues, Barua said, “All the documentaries should be made. As a filmmaker, we need full freedom of expression.
“But when I look into this aspect that I am a citizen of a democratic nation and my views might be different, some responsibility definitely comes in. At the same time, people also needs to come forward to protest, which is also a part of democracy.”
Asserting that he is “not trying to be diplomatic”, the filmmaker said, “This tug of war will always be there and should be there. When we try to deal with that, as a filmmaker I might not agree with a lot of things, but it is my responsibility as well to sensitise the government.” International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) could not screen the three films — In the Shade of Fallen Chinar, The Unbearable Being of Lightness and March, March, March — as the Information and Broadcasting Ministry refused to give a censor exemption certificate to the films.