‘Saffronising’ the censors?

‘Saffronising’ the censors?
Satish Nandgaonkar
File tatkal nahi mil rahi hain (File is not readily traceable).
These words can be found scribbled across a white board which greets visitors to the office of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in South Mumbai’s Walkeshwar area, where the Maharashtra Chief Minister, his Cabinet members and Mumbai’s wealthiest citizens live. The notice does not refer to any specific file, but is served as a general warning to film-makers trooping in that their film certification is a work-in-progress and that they should not expect it to be done swiftly.
That is perhaps the reason the CBFC’s approval of the movie The Messenger of God (MSG) in a record three days raised questions about there being a bias, eventually leading to the previous Chairperson, Leela Samson, and other Board members quitting one after the other.
“All the previous CBFC chiefs were bureaucrats, and they were very stringent. Hrishikesh Mukherjee was the first of us to be appointed in 1981-82,” says Pahlaj Nihalani, the controversial new CBFC chief, speaking to The Hindu. Best known for producing the 1993 Govinda-starrer Aankhen, Nihalani produced a series of trademark potboilers in an era in which pelvic thrusts, and not item numbers, were the norm in Bollywood.

Saffron link

BJP insiders say he has a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) background, and his strongest link to the BJP is that he is related to Shatrughan Sinha’s wife, Poonam Sinha. He was busy with the wedding of the Bihar leader’s son when his appointment as CBFC chairman was announced. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, in fact, attended the wedding in Mumbai.
The dramatic exit of Ms. Samson and 12 members and the swift appointment of Nihalani have raised several questions. Nihalani’s open admiration for the Prime Minister, whom he once described as his “action hero”, has also led to apprehension among a section of film-makers, especially documentary film-makers, that another phase of “saffronisation” of the censor Board could begin, in which dissenting views might be edited out. On social media, the Nihalani-produced Har Ghar Modi video, dedicated to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of the general election in May 2013, has been doing the rounds.
Ms. Samson cited “interference and coercion” by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley and his deputy, Rajyavardhan Rathore, strongly denied that. In media interviews, Ms. Samson strangely did not criticise the National Democratic Alliance government, but accused the Information and Broadcasting Minister in the previous regime, Manish Tewari, of repeated interference in the Board’s daily functioning through intimidation and humiliation.
Many saw a “saffron” hand at work in the Appellate Tribunal’s swift clearance to MSG featuring Dera Sacha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh in just three days, which normally takes up to a month, after a revising committee had earlier refused it certification. The move is being construed as motivated by BJP’s political compulsion in return for the support given to the party by Ram Rahim Singh and his followers during the Haryana elections.
But reliable CBFC sources said the Appellate Tribunal was a fairly independent quasi-judicial body where it could schedule a viewing of a film if the producer approached it and minimum two tribunal members were present.
Though the swift decision came as a surprise to CBFC officials like Mumbai-based sociologist Nandini Sardesai, who was in the revising committee that refused clearance to MSG, a CBFC official said, “If the government wanted to interfere, they would have done it in the case of Aamir Khan-starrer PK. A BJP person influencing the decision-making is different from government interference. Government interference means either the Minister or the Ministry directly calls the shots. In the case of MSG, the tribunal members acted fast in their own eagerness to please the government. They wouldn’t have thought it would backfire.”
The truth may or may not emerge, but the timing of the exit of Ms. Samson and others like actor M.K. Raina, film-maker Shaji Karun, script-writer Anjum Rajabali and film critics Shubhra Gupta and Rajeev Masand have created a cloud of suspicion around the BJP government.
Documentary film-maker Rakesh Sharma, who fought a bitter battle with the CBFC over his film, Final Solution, on Gujarat, said CBFC members George Baker and Vani Tripathi had direct links with the BJP. Mr. Baker had contested elections on the BJP ticket from West Bengal, while Ms. Tripathi worked as the former general secretary of the party. Referring to the other present appointees, he said this was the first time that the entire panel had direct or indirect Sangh Parivar links.However, arguing that political appointments were inevitable as regimes change, film-maker Mahesh Bhatt defended Nihalani saying he had a reputation of being fair despite his political leanings.
“He is that ‘Bollywood producer’ for whom the high brows have a disdain. I can understand it if you don’t like his kind of cinema, but he has the reputation of being a fair man with workers and producers alike. His political leanings do not disqualify him,” said Bhatt, who has run into trouble with the censor Board during both UPA and NDA regimes.

Battle for free speech

“Whether it is UPA or NDA in power, we have had to battle for free speech under every government. I have known Arun Jaitley and he seems to be a liberal man who believes in the rule of law. He should ensure that as long as his government exists, a film with a dissenting view is left unscathed,” Bhatt said.
On his part, Nihalani speaks progressively and stresses that the implementation of the Justice Mukul Mudgal Committee guidelines and digitising the certification process would be his first steps when he meets Mr. Jaitley in New Delhi next week.
Asked if he did not feel the censor Board had become defunct, Nihalani said, “If the CBFC had not been there, how PK would have been allowed to release without any major violence?”
However, many like Sharma argue that the 1992 framework of guidelines used by the Board’s viewing panels is itself unconstitutional. “The guidelines go beyond the scope of Article 19 of the Constitution in which the reasonable restrictions to free speech are enshrined. My fellow film-maker Pankaj Butalia has challenged it in a petition before the High Court now,” Mr. Sharma said. “The CBFC should only be a ratings agency, while second-tier arbitration mechanisms on the lines of a Press Council of India or Advertising Council of India which will have legal and constitutional experts should be created to decide on cuts.”

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Adv  Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Hey folks, coined this term ” Kracktivism “, check out my blog  http://www.kractivist.org/kracktivism-2/

Another Blog, a must- http://fassmumbai.wordpress.com/

I carry a torch in one hand
And a bucket of water in the other:
With these things I am going to set fire to Heaven
And put out the flames of Hell
So that voyagers to God can rip the veils
And see the real goal........................................By Rabia (Rabi'a Al-'Adawiyya)

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Filmmaking Workshops in Delhi: Regns Open

Dear friends

We're happy to share that our filmmaking workshops for 2015 are now open for registrations. 

Starting Feb, we have new 2 & 3 Day Filmmaking Weekends. Opt for Film Direction 101, Camera 101, and more; or the popular Summer Intensive programme. Plus there's a free workshop on documentary coming up. 
Read more:  http://goo.gl/S2NYL

As always, there are special waivers to people from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Do spread the word to anyone interested.

impulsemail AT gmail DOT com

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new website


I am Mahesh seelvi from Patiala (India). I am a voice actor, voice talent, author, translator, screenwriter, copywriter, lyricist, poet and a film maker. 

thanks and regards 

Mahesh seelvi

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content writer for film promotion

I am in Delhi....I am looking for a budget writer to write about my film 'Tragedy of a Thought' on its website, Crowd funding sites and post such blogs about it that we should be able to market and promote our film online....If u think u can do the required work then plz do write me back....regards....parvez....

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Arundhati Roy talks about Gorakhpur Film Festival

Arundhati Roy talks about  Gorakhpur Film Festival (Cinema of Resistance). Check 7.44 minute in this link.

Sanjay Joshi
National Convener, Cinema of Resistance

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Top Quark Workshops- Digital film-making workshop at Bhubaneswar (Jan 17,18 2015)

Dear Docuwallahs, Photographers & Filmmakers,


We invite you to another workshop on

Digital Filmmaking: The Road Ahead

on 17 and 18 January, 2015

<at> National Film Festival on Art & Artists

IDCOL Auditorium, near IG Park, Bhubaneswar, Odisha.



Jan 17- 1400-1700 hrs

Jan 18- 1000-1230 hrs


Previous Master-classes & Workshops:

2014. Digital film-making workshop, International Film Festival of India, Goa

2014. Digital film-making workshop, Kolkata International Film Festival

2014. DSLR Workshop <at> Suchitra Film Society, Bangalore.

2014. DSLR Workshop <at> Jatin Das Centre of Art, Bhubaneshwar.

2013. Top Quark Workshop, Akshara Theatre, New Delhi.

2013. Open Frame Film Festival (PSBT), New Delhi.

2013. London College of Communication, London.

2013. DSLR Workshop <at> Jatin Das Centre of Art, Bhubaneshwar.

2012. Mumbai International Film Festival. Experimental Theatre, NCPA.

2011. Vatavaran Film Festival. The Convention Centre, New Delhi.

2011. Central University of Rajasthan. Kishangarh, Rajasthan.

2010, 2011. Action Northeast Trust, Bongaigaon, Assam.


Details about the previous workshops:



The Workshop:

Starting with the basics of digital photography, we shall move on to more complex uses of Digital SLRs.


We shall deal with issues like how to avoid the usual traps of working with HDSLRs- the moire, the jello, the heating and the ergonomics. There shall also be a demonstration of the gear required to convert the HDSLR into a filmmaking device.


We shall also touch upon Sound recording, lighting and post-production for the HDSLR filmmaking.


We try to give an overview of the HDSLRs and the mirror-less cameras available today.


We also take a peek at the 4K scenario where the MFT Panasonic GH4 and the full-frame SONY Alpha7s are giving an entry point for budget filmmakers. The full-sensor readout and the low-light capacity of the SONY Alpha 7s also figures in the discourse.


We are practitioners. The workshop is not meant to discuss theory and details of frame rates, line interpolation or film emulsion properties v/s the digital image. We are people who can show others what can be done in a small budget using HDSLRs and Mirror-less cameras.


Filmmakers and Cinematographers wanting to make the transition to the emerging digital technologies and students of filmmaking, besides photographers and enthusiasts, have attended our previous workshops.



About The Mentors:

Nandan Saxena and Kavita Bahl are National-Award-winning independent filmmakers. Their oeuvre spans the domains of culture, ecology, livelihoods, development and human rights. Over the years, they have evolved their own style of filmmaking – that tries to give form to the shifting sands between 'documentary' and 'features'.


Nandan and Kavita have been visiting faculty at the Central University of Rajasthan, teaching Photography and Video Production in the department of Culture and Media Studies.


Nandan is an avid photographer. In 2009, he had a 30-day solo exhibition of his photographs at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.


They have just completed a trilogy of films on 'Development, Human Rights and Agrarian crisis' in India. The films in the trilogy are:


Candles in the Wind witnesses the silent march of the widows of the Green Revolution in Punjab, as they re-negotiate the rules of engagement and the politics of domination in their bid to survive.



Special Mention, 61st National Film Awards / India/ 2013.

John Abraham National Film Award for Best Documentary /

SiGNS Film Festival / Kerala / 2014

Special Mention / IDSFFK / Trivandrum / 2014 


Official Selection: Indian Panorama-2014, IFFI-Goa. 



Cotton for my shroud is a film on the escalating suicides of cotton farmers in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.


National Film Award for Best Investigative Film / 2011

Awarded at Dhan Foundation Film Festival / Madurai / 2012

Gold for Script / IDPA Awards for Excellence / Mumbai / 2013

Headline Film- World Investigative Film Week / London / 2013


Dammed documents the resilient, non-violent Gandhian struggle of the mega dam-affected citizens of the Narmada Valley in India.


It is the story of the grit and determination of the Dam-affected villagers of Madhya Pradesh in India, submerged neck-deep in the water of River Narmada, protesting against the apathy of the Indian government and an exploitative Dam Corporation.


Best Film - ‘Water for All’ / Vatavaran Film Festival / 2014

International Premiere: FICA / Brazil / 1 June 2014

(FICA 2014 - International Environmental Film and Video Festival, Brazil)



Find us on Facebook at:





Please forward the mail to those who would hate to miss this.


Hope to see the enthusiasts at the workshop,
Nandan Saxena & Kavita Bahl
Director, Top Quark Films Private Limited
Delhi, India
099100 37244


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Call for Entry for 8th CMS VATAVARAN 2015

CMS VATAVARAN is organising its 8th competitive environment and wildlife film festival and forum from October 09 – 12, 2015, New Delhi on the theme “Water for Life” with a special focus on “Conserving our Water Bodies”. The festival and forum will comprise of various programmes focusing on the festival theme in collaboration with eminent organisations including Government, bilateral organisations, PSUs, civil societies, corporate, media, etc.

We have announced the Call for Entries for the 8th competitive edition of CMS VATAVARAN - Environment & Wildlife Film Festival and Forum 2015 from Indian and International filmmakers. Entries are invited in 11 award categories. The last date for the submission of entries is March 22, 2015.

The participation is open worldwide to environment and wildlife filmmakers - professional and amateur.


For more information email: info <at> cmsvatavaran.org or visit www.cmsvatavaran.org

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'150 SECONDS AGO' - Remembering the 2001 Bhuj earthquake on 31 JAN 2015, SAT 4 PM at "THE fd ZONE" <at> Films Division, Mumbai


26th January 2001 was a day of an immense tragedy for the people of Kutch, Gujarat, as a devastating earthquake hit the area with its epicentre at the small town of Bhachau, which lies 80 km to the east of Bhuj. This was the second major earthquake to hit the area, the first one being the 1956 Anjar earthquake.

This week at "THE fd ZONE" we will spend some time remembering this event, its life-altering effect on the people and their resilience in the face of this tragedy. We will screen two films - a Films Division news magazine titled "Wipe Their Tears" by Girish Vaidya and "150 Seconds Ago", an independent documentary by Batul Mukhtiar.

Batul Mukhtiar will be in conversation with film maker Kuntal Bhogilal after the film.


Girish Vaidya, 4 min, Colour, 2001

This News Magazine shows the devastating effect of earthquake which shook Gujarat on 26.1.01 and left a trail of destruction and devastation. The film ends with an appeal to the audience to contribute generously to the Prime Minister national relief fund.

Batul Mukhtiar, 90 min, Colour, 2002

"150 Seconds Ago" is an indie docu-feature shot on Mini DV in Bhuj, Gujarat after the earthquake in January 2001. 

It was shot in several shooting schedules over the period of one year with a 2-person crew, cinematographer Vivek Shah and director Batul Mukhtiar.

It tells the story of the people of Bhuj, rebuilding their lives, their amazing spiritual strength, their calm in the face of adversity, the vagaries of town planning, and in the midst of it all, a poor rickshaw driver and his wife, struggling to live a dignified life, without a house.

The film has participated in the Competition section of Cinema du Reel, Paris; Westchester County Film Festival, USA; Dahlonega International Film Festival, USA; Digital Talkies Film Festival, New Delhi; Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival 2003, Japan; Documentary Dream Show/Yamagata Film Festival 2004, Sep 2004. 

It has also screened at NID, Ahmedabad; NCPA, Mumbai; Film Appreciation Course, NFAI, Pune; at an art center, Fondazione Sandretto, Italy; and toured all over Japan with the Yamagata Dream Festival (2004 – 2005)

About the film maker:
Batul Mukhtiar is a filmmaker, an alumnus of the Film & Television Institute of India, Pune. She lives in Mumbai. 

Apart from the documentary feature 150 SECONDS AGO, she has directed a children's feature film, LILKEE for the Children's Film Society, India in 2007 and KAPHAL-WILD BERRIES for the CFSI in 2013, which won the Golden Elephant for Best Director at International Children's Film Festival of India and the Golden Lotus National Award, for the Best Children's Film in 2014.


Date and Time:
January 31, 2015 at 4:00 PM

RR 2 Theatre
6th floor
Phase-II Building
Films Division Complex 
Pedder Road

All screenings at The FD Zone are free and open to all. 
Please come and spread the word. Entry is on first come, first served basis.

"THE fd ZONE" team

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Lagaan A New Perspective

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3rd Chennai International Documentary and Short Film Festival 2015

Val 3rd Chennai International Documentary and Short Film Festival 2015


25 Jan – 1 Feb 205, Chennai


Organized by MARUPAKKAM

 in association with Panuval Book Shop, Discovery Book Palace, Periyar Thidal, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Madras and Films Division, Government of India


Guest speakers:

Comrade Thiyagu, political activist,

Abdul Samad, political activist,

RV Ramani, filmmaker,

Sadanand Menon, art critic,

A.Marx, writer,

Venkatesh Chakravarthy, filmscholar,

M.D.Muthukumaraswamy, folklorist,

Pritham Chakravarthy, actor/teacher,

Ranjani K Muthy, researcher/writer,

Arun Ezhilan, journalist,

Ajayan Bala, writer,

Deepu, filmmaker,

Jayarani, journalist


Poonguzhali, filmmaker.


Around 50 films will be screened under the following packages:

1) International documentaries, short films, music videos and experimental films 2) Indian documentaries and short films 3) Films Division package: curated by Avijit Mukul Kishore 4) Retrospective: Films by Shubradeep Chakravorthy



25 Jan; 5 pm at Panuval Book Store, Thiruvanmiyur

Chief Guest: RV Ramani, filmmaker


Inaugural films:



Directed by SNS Sastry, English and Hindi, B/W, 1967, 20 min; produced by Films Division


Twenty years after India's independence, the film maker travels across the country and interviews its youth, those born in 1947. What does independence mean to them? What are their dreams? How do they see themselves and the young nation that they symbolise? The answers have a mix of idealism, irony, sarcasm, dismay, hope and optimism. This film is as relevant today as it was over forty years ago.



Directed by S Sukhdev, Music, Colour, 1967, 58 min; produced by Films Division


“India 67” was commissioned to celebrate 20 years of India’s independence. Sukhdev, working within the state-run Films Division, went on to make a film that was far removed from propaganda.




25: 6 pm; Inauguration at Panuval Book Store

26: 10 am to 5 pm at Discovery Book Palace

27, 28, 29: 10 am to 5 pm at Department of Politics and Political Science, University of Madras

30, 31, 1Feb: 10 am to 5 pm; Periyar Thidal

30, 31, 1Feb: 6 pm to 9 pm; Panuval Book Store


For the detailed schedule and synopsis:



We welcome you all!


Amudhan R.P.

Festival Director

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