- S Durga director moves court after his film was dropped from Goa festival
- It was recommended for screening by a 13-member IFFI jury
- S Durga, Marathi film Nude reportedly removed from list by the ministry
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"I want the ministry to go by the rule and not overlook the jury's decision. They should behave like a democracy, not a dictatorship," Mr Sasidharan told news agency Press Trust of India, demanding in his petition that the jury's decision be implemented and his film, which has won an international award, be screened at the Goa festival.
His petition says that the ministry "arbitrarily vetoed the decision of the jury without any authority of law, and excluded the petitioner's film from the Indian Panorama section, without notice to the petitioner, and also without assigning any reason."
S Durga was earlier named Sexy Durga, but the director changed the name he said "because the censor board did not like the word 'sexy'." His petition states that some fringe elements protested against the film because they mistakenly thought that the title refers to Goddess Durga. The film is about a chilling encounter of hitchhikers with two men in the dead of the night.
Ravi Jadhav, the director of Nude, said he had been told that his film was recommended by the jury to open the Indian Panorama section at the Goa festival. He said he has written to the I&B ministry seeking to know why his film was rejected. Nude is about the struggle of a woman who is secretly a nude model in Mumbai.
The ministry is yet to comment on the controversy.
Sujoy Ghosh, who directed the Vidya Balan starrer Kahani, is abroad and confirmed he had sent his resignation to the I&B ministry, but would only say when asked if it was over the two films being dropped, "Yes, but I can't say anything more than that right now."
Several other jury members have also expressed their displeasure over the ministry's move, with one describing it as "unprecedented."
The jury submitted its list to the ministry on September 20-21, but the list of films to be screened was made public by the ministry only last week, with S Durga and Nude excluded. Mr Sasidharan has alleged that the announcement was deliberately delayed to just a few days before the festival begins.
Congress leader Manish Tewari has called it "crude censorship." He tweeted on Tuesday, "PREPOSTEROUS - that I&B Ministry got two Films dropped from IFFI2017. Interference with Jury decisions a new LOW. When Ministry tasked with defending freedom of speech and expression becomes it's SLAYER it is time for the creative community to revolt against this CRUDE censorship."
The 48th edition of the film festival will be held in Goa from Monday next, November 20, to Tuesday, November 28.