The screening of a documentary film on a member of the Dalit folk artistes group, Kabir Kala Manch, was cancelled by the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), Pune on grounds that the filmmaker did not take prior permission from the institute for its public screening.
While the filmmaker Harishankar Nachimuthu claimed that the screening was cancelled due to pressure from a “right wing student’s organisation,” FTII director Bhupendra Kainthola rejected this when asked about it. The film was scheduled to be screened at the institute at 6pm on Thursday.
“The allegation that FTII cancelled the screening under pressure from a particular organisation is so preposterous and baseless that replying to it would lend dignity to it,” Kainthola said.
The documentary ‘Hora’ of 23 minutes duration is based on the life of a Dalit woman called Rupali Jadhav, a member of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), said Harishankar Nachimuthu, 30, who made the film as a part of his academic work.
“She is a working class Dalit woman and her partner has been in jail for 3 years. She is a follower of Ambedkar and this is her story. I have explained everything from why I chose the topic and everything in the film,” said Harishankar Nachimuthu.
KKM is one of the organisations which had organised the Elgar Parishad at Shaniwarwada on December 31, 2017 which were followed by caste-based violence at Bhima Koregaon. Its conveners have faced police action and arrests on charges of links with Maoists.
“The institute told me that the screening was cancelled for security reasons as advised by the police. I was told about this only yesterday (Wednesday),” he said. The screening was supposed to be held at the main theatre in FTII. Nachimuthu alleged that a right wing student’s organisation had influenced the institute and the police to cancel the screening.
However, in a statement, Kainthola said, “H Nachimuthu did not give any prior requisition to book the Main Theatre for the screening of his documentary. Moreover the first screening of a student’s new documentary is normally only for internal viewing. Documentaries are generally screened for internal assessment only and are not scheduled for screening for general public unless otherwise decided. Public screenings of student projects are not allowed without permission, since various pre-requisites like CBFC certificate, logistics, availability of infrastructure etc. have to be met before outside public is invited for screenings.” He added that the film did not have CBFC certificate.
Previously, in August 2013, five students of the FTII were attacked by members of the ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) outside the National Film Archive of India following a screening of Anand Patwardharn’s documentary Jai Bheem Comrade and a performance by the Kabir Kala Manch.