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Censor Board Bans 'Final Solution'

By Kalpana Sharma

06 August, 2004
The Hindu

Mumbai:The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to pass Rakesh Sharma's award-winning film on the Gujarat violence. Final Solution, the three-and-a-half hour documentary, was rejected by the Board on the grounds that it "promotes communal disharmony among Hindu and Muslim groups and presents the picture of Gujarat riots in a way that it may arouse communal feelings and clashes among Hindu Muslim groups."

The letter from the CBFC also said that the film "attacks the basic concept of our Republic i.e. National Integrity and Unity. Certain dialogues involve defamation of individuals or body of individuals. Entire picturisation is highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence. State security is jeopardised and public order is endangered if this film is shown.... When it is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact, it is not advisable to be exhibited. Hence refused under Section 5(b) 1 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952."

No surprise

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Sharma said: "There is no shock or surprise at this decision. But I thought they would be more clever in the way they rejected it."

According to him the Board had `violated' many censorship rules, including time limit and procedural matters. He said he planned to explore legal remedies as "I don't expect a free and fair hearing from within the CBFC." he said.

Since it was released in February this year, the film has been shown at a number of international film festivals and has won several awards including the Wolfgang Staudte award at the Berlin International film festival, the Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Documentary at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Silver Dhow at the Zanzibar Film Festival. The film is due for commercial release in Germany next month.

`Rules are rules'

The Regional Officer at the CBFC in Mumbai, V. K. Singla, suggested that Mr. Sharma had many levels of appeal within the Censor Board, which he can use. "Rules are rules," he said and films have to go through the process of certification before being screened in public.

"But if a person feels he can show his film everywhere and get awards, then why does he need a certificate?" he asked. Although he has not seen the film, he said that the Board adhered to guidelines laid down under the Cinematograph Act.

A committee of four people, "including a Muslim gentleman", viewed Rakesh Sharma's film, he said. Asked on what basis the viewing committee was selected, Mr. Singla said that this depended on the availability of members of the Board. "I know people are not happy," he said. "But what can we do. Sometimes we are termed liberal, sometimes very harsh."

Mr. Sharma complained that the Board saw his film on a day when he was not available to answer questions by the screening committee. Mr. Singla countered that a filmmaker's convenience cannot determine the timing of a screening. "We have so many films to review. We cannot keep them pending."

Mr. Sharma, however, has complained, in particular, about the manner in which his film was previewed.

In a letter to the CBFC Chairman, Anupam Kher, he has said that the preview panel managed to see his three-and-a-half-hour film and reach a decision to ban it in less than three hours.






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