The documentaries were to be screened at an international film fest in Thiruvananthapuram.
New Delhi, Thiruvananthapuram: Four documentary films - two on Kashmir, one on the suicide of Hyderabad scholar Rohith Vemula and another on the trouble in Delhi's prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University - have received a thumbs down from the Centre's Information and Broadcasting ministry for failing the "sensitivity" test. Ministry officials say they scrutinize documentary films on four particular parameters. They concluded that films in question were "sensitive in nature" and threatened the "integrity of the country", the officials said. The film-makers are up in arms, saying three of the documentaries were to be screened shortly at an international festival in Thiruvananthapuram.
The scripts of four films -- Mohajir', 'Unbearable Being of Lightness', 'March, March, March' and 'In the shadow of the Chinar' -- were checked by the films division of the Information and Broadcasting ministry. Exemption certificate was denied last week.
There is a provision which allows documentaries to get clearance or exemption letter from the Information or Broadcasting ministry for screening to limited audiences before they get it from the Censor Board or CBFC.
Information and Broadcasting ministry officials said they check documentaries to see if there is possibility that the film violates national security and national integrity, if there is a possibility of law and order problems or a disruption of ties between two nation states.
An official said one of the films is about Burhan Wani, the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist whose killing last year triggered unrest in Kashmir for nearly six months. "This is totally violative of the guidelines," he added. Asked if the denial was for political reasons, an official said it was not the case.
Officials say the filmmakers can appeal to the higher authority -- which is the secretary of the Information and Broadcasting ministry - for clearance from the regulatory body CBFC, or the Central Board of Film Certification.
Three film-makers whose documentaries have been denied permission, said they have decided to approach the court.
The film-makers say the documentaries have been available on YouTube for months and have been watched by thousands of people. The government's ban, they say, only stops them from entering a contest, where a victory may bring prestige to India.
"I am not surprised that the permission has been denied. This is just the government's continuing attack on academia and culture," said 27 -year-old Kathu Lukose, the director of "March March March", which focuses on last year's student unrest in JNU.
Fazil NC, 28, who made the "In The Shade Of Fallen Chinar" - a movie on Kashmir -- said the ban has been a blessing or sorts. Over the last eight months, around 50,000 people have watched his documentary on YouTube. But on the last two days, "traffic has steeped, with more than 10,000 viewers," he said.
Last year, the censor board triggered a controversy after suggesting 89 cuts to Anurag Kashyap's film Udta Punjab, which included references to Punjab, politics and elections. Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani had said the decision was not taken under any political pressure.