The Censor Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) regional office denied permission for screening of Malayalam film ‘Varthamanam’, set in the backdrop of students protest held in Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi early this year.
Noted filmmaker Sidhartha Siva has directed the film with award-winning actress Parvathy Thiruvoth in the lead role. The movie revolves around the journey of a Keralite woman who goes to the JNU campus for her research studies.
Aryadan Shoukath, the film’s producer-script-writer, said the Censor Board officials did not point out any reason for denying the certification. He also said that we would submit the movie to the revising committee of the Censor Board in Mumbai for certification.
“The CBFC officials have just informed us that the film should be submitted to the revising committee. We still do not know why the movie is denied the certification,” Shoukath, also a Congress leader, told PTI.
The award-winning script writer said he had carried out several months of research and studies before penning the script. He also had spent several days in Delhi to get first-hand experience of the culture and lifestyle in JNU campus. “We cannot send the movie for any award this time if we do not get the Censor Board clearance before December 31,” he said.
BJP leader behind denial of permission
Shoukath suspected that the nod for screening was denied on political grounds. He also cited a recent tweet of a censor board member – state vice-president of SC Morcha of the BJP.
“Adv Sandeep Kumar recently tweeted that the permission was denied as Aryadan Shoukath was its script writer and producer. Now-a-days Censor Board has several political appointees who have no basic knowledge of cinema,” he said.
Shoukath also uploaded on his Facebook page the screenshot of the controversial tweet of the regional Censor Board member.
In his tweet, which was found removed later, Sandeep Kumar had said that he, as a member of the Board, had opposed nod to the movie. “As a member of the Censor Board, I saw the movie Varthamanam. The theme was the persecution of Muslims and Dalits in the JNU agitation. I opposed it.
Because, Shoukath was its script writer and producer, of course, the theme of the film was anti-national,” the tweet said.
How a movie becomes anti-national?
Violence broke out at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus early in January this year as masked men armed with sticks and rods attacked students and teachers protesting the fee hike and damaged property on the campus, prompting the administration to call in the police which conducted a flag march.
Coming down heavily on him, Shoukath, in his FB post, sought to know how a movie would become anti-national if it speaks about the students’ agitation in Delhi campus or the democratic movements in the country. “We are still living in India which is a democratic, secular and socialist country.
“Is it based on the clan or race of the script-writer, nod is given to a film for screening? Such ‘undeclared emergency’ situation in the cultural sector cannot be accepted,” the script-writer’s FB post said.