HYDERABAD: After Ice Cream and Ice Cream 2, filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma is caught in a fresh controversy with his upcoming film, Sridevi (initially titled Savitri). If his intention was to get ‘negative publicity’ with the provocative posters of the film - which show a minor ogling at a woman - he has succeeded far beyond his expectations. So much so that the Andhra Pradesh State Commission for Child Rights has taken up the case suo motu. “According to Section 292, Clause (1) and (2), children should not be exposed to vulgarity and obscenity and the punishment is five years imprisonment. It is a straight case of violation of child rights,” Achyuta Rao, president of AP State Commission of Child Rights, told Express.
The argumentative RGV, however, clarified on Monday that his intention wasn’t to expose children to vulgarity as is being alleged by ‘misguided and misinformed’ organisations as he put it. “The film Savitri/Sridevi is a subject matter of a teenager getting attracted to an older woman which was already dealt with in highly acclaimed films such as Malena, Cinema Paradiso, Summer Of 42, Raj kapoor’s Mera Naam Joker, Thoorpu Padamara etc which won accolades nationally and internationally,” the maverick director explained.
Achyuta Rao isn’t convinced. “If he means to question why are we targeting just him and ignored the rest in the past, the answer is simple. It came to our notice, and as an institution that safeguards child rights, it is our responsibility to ask him for an explanation,” he said.
In a rather lengthy clarification, RGV also said, “In teenage stages, one goes through these kind of attractions which is quite natural and accepted by psychologists the world over.”
Rights activists and almost everyone, who had seen the film posters, assumed that the woman in question was most likely the boy’s teacher. But RGV denied the same. “The State commission for Protection of Child Rights also assumed the woman in the poster to be a teacher and they sent a notice to me. I want to clarify once for all that the film is neither my story nor the woman, a teacher in the film,” he said.
Nonetheless, Achyuta Rao felt it doesn’t make any difference. “Irrespective of who the woman is, the poster is objectionable,” he pointed out.
The ever opportunistic RGV used the spat to throw some light on the story of his film. “The film is primarily about the ill-effects of a boy being subjected to a fast-moving present life styles around us and how it affects him and the people around him. The content in its finality, I am not obligated to reveal here to the people who have no authority to ask me and if at all there is such objectionable material there’s a government appointed censor board to deal with it at an appropriate time,” he said and even threatened to drag anyone making allegations against him to the court.
The Child Rights Commission, while conceding that censor board is the right body to look into the film’s merits & demerits, clarified that it was only seeking an explanation. “This is a democracy and every human being has a right to exercise his rights. He can go ahead and take legal support. All we demand is an explanation. We have filed a report with the police commissioner too,” Achyuta Rao informed.
How it all began?
Along with releasing the poster of Savitri (now titled Sridevi), on Saturday, director RGV shared “There will be a Savitri in everyone’s life. When I was in school, I was crazy about my English teacher, Saraswathi. That Saraswathi is my Savitri. In the same way, there must be a teacher, an aunty who is your neighbour, your sister’s friends or your tuition teacher – there must be many such Savitris. Taking those women as inspiration, we begin the shoot of this film. On this note, we are starting this contest ‘Who is your Savitri?’. You can share your Savitri experiences with us on naasavithri.com and we will add them to the film”
This stirred response from Andhra Pradesh State Child Rights Commission who filed a suo motu against him.