A Letter to Venkaiah Naidu by 160 Filmmakers, Artists to Stop Its Censorship Regime



New Delhi: 160 filmmakers, artists and academics have written to Venkaiah Naidu,the I&B Minister asking him the reason behind denying permission for the screening of three documentaries at the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) which is going to held in Thiruvananthapuram from 16-20 June.

The three documentaries which have come under the government’s scanner deal with controversial topics like the Jawaharlal Nehru University students’ agitation (March, March, March), the unrest in Kashmir Valley (In the Shade of Fallen Chinar) and the Rohith Vemula issue (The Unbearable Being of Lightness).

Shawn Sebastian, whose documentary “In the Shade of Fallen Chinar” has been denied censorship exemption by the Central government, said. “There has been a concerted effort from the government’s side to curtail freedom of expression of artistes in diverse spheres over the last three years.”

A copy of the letter written to Naidu was shared on Facebook and it reads:

Shri M.Venkaiah Naidu
Minister for Information and Broadcasting
Shastri Bhavan
New Delhi-110001
Dear Sir

We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed at the news of three films being denied screening at the 10th edition of the International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala (IDSFFK) 2017.

We want to question the basis for denying screening permission to these films. A brief perusal of the themes of the films denied screening – the suicide of research scholar Rohit Vemula, on artists in Kashmir, and on the student protests at JNU – indicates that each one of these films is dealing with prominent political issues that have led to much discussion within the country. It is also clear that the government of the day is resorting to draconian action to stifle all such political debate and indeed Article 19 of our constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression to every citizen of this country.

We also note that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has not given any reason for its withholding of screening permission.

We are part of a community of filmmakers and artists who are deeply disturbed by these attempts to restrict artistic voices. We cannot support actions that deprive audiences of meaningful cinema and endanger the democratic values of our country.

We unequivocally condemn this action by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and lend our unqualified support to IDSFFK and the filmmakers who are being prevented from screening their films.

We urge the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to immediately issue an exemption letter to the three films and ensure that films at festivals do not face arbitrary censorship in future.

A glance at the signatories:
1. AM Padmanabhan, Sound Recordist, Mumbai
2. Aditya Seth, Filmmaker, Mumbai
3. Afrah Shafiq, Filmmaker, Mumbai
4. Ajay Bhardwaj, Filmmaker/Scholar, Vancouver, Canada
5. Ajay Noronha, Cinematographer, Mumbai
6. Ajayan Adat, Sound Designer, Cochin
7. Amala Popuri, Sound Recordist, Mumbai
8. Amar Kanwar, Filmmaker, New Delhi
9. Amudhan RP, Filmmaker, Chennai
10. Anand Patwardhan, Filmmaker, Mumbai
11. Ananya Chakraborti, Filmmaker, Kolkata
12. Anjali Monteiro, Academic/Filmmaker, Mumbai
13. Anupama Chandra, Editor/Filmmaker, New Delhi
14. Anupama Srinivasan, Filmmaker, New Delhi
15. Apal Singh, Cinematographer, Nainital
16. Aparna Sanyal, Filmmaker, New Delhi
17. Apoorv Thacker, Filmmaker, Pune
18. Archana Kapoor, Filmmaker, New Delhi
19. Arjun Gourisaria, Editor/Filmmaker, Panjim
20. Arshad Sardar, Cinematographer, Mumbai
21. Arun Sethi, Cinematographer/Filmmaker, Mumbai
22. Aruna Vasudev, Author/Curator, New Delhi
23. Asheesh Pandya, Sound Recordist, Gurgaon
24. Ashmaki Acharya, Academic/Filmmaker, Mumbai
25. Avijit Mukul Kishore, Cinematographer, Mumbai
26. Batul Mukhtiar, Filmmaker, Mumbai
27. Bela Negi, Filmmaker, Mumbai
28. Bgyna Bhushan Dahal, Audiographer, Mumbai
29. Bishakha Dutta, Filmmaker, Mumbai
30. Bobo Khuraijam, Indie Filmmaker, Imphal
31. CK Muraleedharan, Cinematographer, Mumbai
32. Chandita Mukherjee, Filmmaker, Mumbai
33. Cyrus Mistry, Playwright/ Novelist, Mumbai
34. Daksh Punj, Filmmaker, New Delhi
35. Debalina Majumder, Filmmaker, Kolkata
36. Deepa Dhanraj, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
37. Deepika Sharma, Filmmaker, New Delhi
38. Deepti Khurana, Academic and Filmmaker, Rohtak
39. Dinker, Actor, New Delhi
40. Dipti Bhalla Verma, Editor/Filmmaker, Gurgaon
41. Fazil N.C., Filmmaker
42. Gargi Sen, Filmmaker, New Delhi
43. Gauri Chakraborty, Academic/Filmmaker, New Delhi
44. Girish Shahane, Author, Mumbai
45. Gautam Sonti, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
46. George Mangalath Thomas, Filmmaker, Mumbai
47. Girish Shahane, Author, Mumbai
48. Gouri Patwardhan, Academic/Filmmaker, Pune
49. Gurpal Singh, Actor/Filmmaker, Mumbai
50. Hansa Thapliyal, Filmmaker, Bangalore
51. Haobam Paban Kumar, Filmmaker, Imphal
52. Heer Ganjwala, Filmmaker, Mumbai
53. Indrajit Neogi, Sound Recordist, Mumbai
54. Indranil Roychowdhury, Filmaker, Kolkata
55. Ira Bhaskar, Academic, New Delhi
56. Iram Ghufran, Filmmaker, New Delhi
57. Irene Dhar Malik, Editor, Mumbai
58. Jabeen Merchant, Editor, Mumbai
59. James Khangenbham, Filmmaker, Imphal
60. Jill Misquitta, Filmmaker, Mumbai
61. K.P. Jayasankar, Academic/Filmmaker, Mumbai
62. K.U. Mohanan, Cinematographer, Mumbai
63. Kamal KM, Filmmaker, Kochi
64. Karma Takapa, Filmmaker, Gangtok
65. Kasturi, Scholar and Film Activist, Kolkata
66. Kavita Joshi, Media Trainer and Filmmaker, New Delhi
67. Kavita Pai, Filmmaker, Mumbai
68. Keval Arora, Academic, New Delhi
69. Kislay, Editor, New Delhi
70. Laxmi Keluskar, Production Designer, Mumbai
71. Leena Manimekalai, Filmmaker, Chennai
72. Mahadeb Shi, Editor/Filmmaker, Kolkata
73. Maheen Mirza, Cinematographer, Bhopal
74. Maibam Amarjeet Singh, Filmmaker, Manipur
75. Malika Taneja, Actor, New Delhi
76. Mamta Murthy, Filmmaker, Mumbai
77. Maya Krishna Rao, Theatre Artist, New Delhi
78. Meenakshi Arumugam, Filmmaker, New Delhi
79. Miriam Chandy Menacherry, Filmmaker, Mumbai
80. Mithu Sen, Artist, New Delhi
81. Moinak Biswas,Academic, Kolkata
82. Monica Wahi, Curator, Mumbai
83. Nakul Singh Sawhney, Filmmaker, New Delhi
84. Nandini Bedi, Teacher/Filmmaker, Oegstgeest, The Netherlands
85. Naveen Padmanabha, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
86. Navroze Contractor, Cinematographer/ Filmmaker, Bengaluru
87. Nilita Vachani, Filmmaker/Editor, New York
88. Nina Sabnani, Academic/ Filmmaker, Mumbai
89. Nirmal Chander, Editor/Filmmaker, New Delhi
90. Nishtha Jain, Filmmaker, Mumbai
91. Nupur Basu, Filmmaker/Journalist, Bengaluru
92. Padmaja Shaw, Academic/Filmmaker, Hyderabad
93. Pankaj Rishi Kumar, Editor/ Filmmaker, Mumbai
94. Paramita Ghosh, Editor, Mumbai
95. Paromita Vohra, Filmmaker, Mumbai
96. Pooja Sharma, Cinematographer, Mumbai
97. Premalya Singh, Artist, New Delhi
98. Priya Thuvassery, Filmmaker, New Delhi
99. Priyanka Chhabra, Filmmaker/ Artist, New Delhi
100. Puloma Pal, Editor, Mumbai
101. Purnima Singh, Artist, New Delhi
102. Pushpender Singh, Filmmaker, Pune
103. Putul Mahmood, Academic/Filmmaker, Kolkata
104. Rahul Roy, Filmmaker, Gurgaon
105. Ramani, Filmmaker, Chennai
106. Ranjan Palit, Cinematographer/ Filmmaker, Kolkata
107. Ranjani Mazumdar, Academic/Filmmaker, New Delhi
108. Reena Mohan, Editor, New Delhi
109. Saba Dewan, Filmmaker, Gurgaon
110. Sahana Manjesh, Advocate, New Delhi
111. Saikhom Ratan, Filmmaker, Imphal
112. Sameera Jain, Academic/Filmmaker, New Delhi
113. Samina Mishra, Filmmaker/ Educationist, New Delhi
114. Sandhya Kumar, FIlmmaker, Bengaluru
115. Sanjay Joshi, Cinema of Resistance
116. Sanjay Kak, Filmmaker, New Delhi
117. Sanju Surendran, Filmmaker, Thrissur
118. Sankhajit Biswas, Editor/Filmmaker, Kolkata
119. Sania Farooqui, Television Journalist, New Delhi
120. Sarvnik Kaur, Filmmaker, Mumbai
121. Satya Rai Nagpaul, Cinematographer, Mumbai
122. Setu, Cinematographer, Mumbai
123. Shabnam Sukhdev, Filmmaker, Canada
124. Shehnad Jalal, Cinematographer, Thiruvananthapuram
125. Sherna Dastur, Artist/Filmmaker, New Delhi
126. Shikha Jhingan, Academic/ Filmmaker, New Delhi
127. Shikha Sen, Editor/Filmmaker, New Delhi
128. Shini JK, Editor, Mumbai
129. Shirley Abraham, Filmmaker, Mumbai
130. Shridhar Sudhir, Filmmaker, Patna
131. Shubham, Actor, Delhi
132. Simantini Dhuru, Filmmaker, Mumbai
133. Smriti Nevatia, Curator/Script Consultant, Mumbai
134. Sneha Koshi, Artist, Bengaluru
135. Sonia Nepram, Filmmaker, Imphal
136. Subasri Krishnan, Curator/Filmmaker, New Delhi
137. Subha Das Mollick, Media Teacher/Filmmaker, Kolkata
138. Subhadipta Biswas, Filmmaker, Kolkata
139. Subhasish Goon
140. Sudheer Palsane, Cinematographer, Mumbai
141. Sukanta Majumdar, Sound Recordist, Kolkata
142. Sunanda Bhat, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
143. Sunzu Bachaspatimayun, Filmmaker/ TV journalist,
144. Supriyo Sen, Filmmaker, Kolkata
145. Surabhi Sharma, Filmmaker, Mumbai
146. Suresh Rajamani, Sound Recordist, Mumbai
147. Sushma Veerappa, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
148. Swati Dandekar, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
149. T . Jayashree, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
150. T. N. Uma Devi, Filmmaker, New Delhi
151. Tarun Bhartiya, Filmmaker/Photographer/Publisher, Shillong
152. Tathagata Singha, Filmmaker, Mumbai
153. Teena Gill, Filmmaker, New Delhi
154. Tushar Madhav, Filmmaker, Mumbai
155. Umesh Kulkarni, Filmmaker, Pune
156. Vidya Das Arora, Academic, New Delhi
157. Vani Subramaniam, Filmmaker, New Delhi
158. Vasundhara Phadke, Editor, Mumbai
159. Vinod Raja, Filmmaker, Bengaluru
160. Yousuf Saeed, Filmmaker, New Delhi