A Bengali film that puns on the word 'bhoot', lampoons the political class of all colours and is being described by those who managed to see it as a "biting black satire" was taken off the screens in Kolkata and the suburbs less than 48 hours after it was released.
Asked about it, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee snapped, "Don't ask me such questions."
Bhobbishoter Bhoot, which could translate into Ghost of the Future or The Past of the Future, released at multiplexes and single screens Friday. That day itself, some shows were cancelled by theatres claiming 'technical snag'. By Saturday afternoon, theatre spokespersons admitted the police had phoned and asked for the film to be removed.
Filmmaker Anik Dutta is not happy. "Of course I was not making a mythological film. It is a satire and in this case there are political elements without naming exact names but why else am i making a film. Why else am I calling myself an independent filmmaker," he said.
It is not as if Mr Dutta didn't have a premonition. On 11 February, a joint commissioner (intelligence), of Special Branch, West Bengal Police, wrote to the producer and asked for a private screening of the film at the earliest as the police, he wrote, "is in receipt of ...inputs that the contents of the film may hurt public sentiments which may lead to political law and order issues."
The producer did not oblige. Legally, once the censor board has given the go ahead, the film does not need to be screened by any other entity.
On Sunday, several theatre, film and literature personalities called for a dharna at Metro Channel, the same venue were Mamata Banerjee sat in protest a couple of Sundays ago. They invited Anik Dutta and his cast and crew to attend.
When they all gathered, however, the police did not allow the dharna leading to angry exchanges.
Soumitra Chatterjee, the veteran actor, was not present but sent in a letter condemning the "fascist vendetta" of the ruling powers. In November, Mr Dutta had been vocal about a film festival venue being plastered with posters and banners of Mamata Banerjee.
"I didn't target her," Mr Dutta said, "but that a political person dominated a film festival space."
"They may not like what I am saying in the film. But I have a censor board certificate, there is a deal to show the film and now this. It's a violation of my legal rights," he added
Mr Dutta's last big hit was Bhooter Bhabishyat, also an edgy political satire, punning on the word 'bhoot' which in Bengali and Hindi means 'ghost' or 'the past'. Those who love ghost stories are optimistic. If not on the big screen, the film could magically find an early release on movie channels like Netflix or Amazon Prime.
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