Filmmaker Ashvin Kumar, who still awaits a censor certificate for the release of his film "No Fathers In Kashmir", says censorship has no place in the modern democracy. The filmmaker, son of celebrated veteran fashion designer Ritu Kumar, is himself an Oscar-nominated talent. He has been struggling to get a U/A certificate for his new movie. "Censorship has no place in a modern democracy, filmmakers should be celebrated not suspected, it's a colonial anachronism in the era of the internet. While harassment may not be intentional or personal or political, it's built into the system which makes it tough to give the benefit of the doubt," Ashvin tweeted on Friday.
"No Fathers in Kashmir" is a love story between two 16-year-olds whose fathers have disappeared in Kashmir with no certainty of their return. In December, Ashvin had said that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) -- after an inordinate delay of nearly 90 days and of giving him no clarity on what it was found objectionable in the film -- came up with a list of cuts that he and his team objected to as "the cuts proposed were based neither on reality nor on law".
He even went to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) for relief, but they returned it to the CBFC as the latter did not give us a legally-mandated hearing. As Ashvin continues to wait for a censor certificate, he has found support from senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor and the film's actress Soni Razdan as well as filmmaker Pritish Nandy, who have lobbied for the film. "Oscar nominee and two-time National Award winner Ashvin Kumar's new film 'No Fathers In Kashmir' (tipped as one of 10 eagerly awaited films of 2019) remains banned over six months, delaying its release and forfeiting application for National Awards this year. Unconscionable," Tharoor tweeted.
Grateful for Tharoor's support, Ashvin wrote: "Hopefully better sense will prevail soon and our labour of love will see the light of day! Your support means the world to us." Soni, whose daughter Alia Bhatt, also an actress, was a part of a delegation of Bollywood's young talent that met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi on Thursday, tagged the Prime Minister's Office and Modi in a tweet, saying: "Better systems that don't harass responsible filmmakers are clearly the need of the hour!"
Just last month, Nandy had tweeted: "Ashvin Kumar's film 'No Fathers In Kashmir' is facing CBFC problems. It's stuck for months and despite FCAT orders, he is not being given a hearing. The man is a fine filmmaker, an Oscar nominee in the past, and someone needs to help him. Prasoon Joshi, will you please?" In response, Ashvin said that his film is about "youth, hope and compassion instead of hate and fear that mainstream media fuels on Kashmir".
"Yet learned CBFC (is) afraid youth in India might learn the truth, question and empathise... pulls every illegal trick to stop its wide release." Soni, reacting to Nandy's post, wrote: "Clueless as to why we are having so much trouble with this tender love story gem of a film Prasoon Joshi? When debates are flying thick and fast in Parliament on Kashmir and 'Haider' has released, it's not like there are any secrets left to tell really." Ashvin said, "it underlines reasons this film needs to get out there and provide a counter-narrative of compassion and empathy in place of fear and hate that dominates mainstream discourse in our country".
He maintained "there are people who don't want the truth to be told". Soni summed it up saying: "Yes... And stories have a wonderful way of connecting people!" Ashvin has earlier made films like "Inshallah, Football" and "Inshallah, Kashmir", both about Kashmir. They won a National Award each and was awarded at Dubai, Pusan, Chicago and other international festivals. But they too were both initially banned by the CBFC then, and after a protest by the filmmaker, both were given the 'A' certificate.
(With inputs from agencies.)