KOLKATA: The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has suggested cuts of scenes referring to 1970s Naxalite movement and 1946 Muslim League-instigated ‘Direct Action Day’ riots in a historical documentary on Kolkata by award-winning director Anirban Datta stating that his documentary would ‘instigate communal passions’ and would be ‘seditious’.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, the director refused to back down and said he would even go to court if needed. “This is an attempt by the CBFC to de-politicise my documentary Kalikshetra (Land of Kali). I will not back down by compromising my creativity. I have sent for a review which if I find unsatisfactory, I would move to the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal,” he said.
The 56-minute Kalikshetra attempts to narrate the history of the city based on archaeological evidence and personal narratives of major events shaping the present of the city.
“The scenes CBFC objected to include a journalist’s view of the Mohammad Ali Jinnah instigation for 1946 Direct Action Day riots, industrialist G D Birla’s letter to Mahatma Gandhi on the 1946 Cabinet Mission and interviews of witnesses of 1970s Naxalite movement where they refer to massacres of young Naxals by CPM and Congress cadres in Baranagar Cossipore suburbs in northern part of the city. They even asked me to remove the word ‘CRPF’. CBFC has asked for references to these scenes. Are personal narratives not references?” Datta added.
West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had recently attacked the central government over alleged attempts of the BJP government to rewrite history. Datta resonated that over the cuts saying: “This censorship is in line with the so-called nationalist agenda. History itself is political as it depends on who writes it. Attempting to de-politicise history is nonsensical. There is an environment of fear in the industry.”
The director says that he has highest regards for the CBFC but says that the board members misinterpreted the guidelines. “They have invoked Sections 14 and 19 of CBFC guidelines stating that my work causes contempt of court, treason, and stirs communal passions. They have completely misinterpreted the censor board guidelines. Nowhere is written in the guidelines that historical facts can’t be presented. I will be violating other guidelines of CBFC if I agree to their cuts,” he added.
The censor board has recently changed the name of historical movie ‘Padmavati’ to ‘Padmavat’ and awarded it a U/A certification after several cuts and scuttled the release of Malayalam movie ‘S Durga’ at International Film Festival of India (IFFI) at Goa.