Patwardhan runs into trouble with censors again

Kalpana Sharma, The Hindu, Bombay, Oct. 27, 1995

The well-known documentary film-maker and activist. Mr. Anand Patwardhan, has once
again run into trouble with the censor board with bis latest documentary film. “Father, Son
and Holy War.”

The two-part film which has been awarded the Special Jury Prize at the recently concluded Vancouver International Film Festival In Canada, explores the connection between machismo and communal conflict. While the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) passed Part Two of the film entitled “Hero Pharmacy with an ‘A’ certificate, it insisted on one cut in Part One- ‘Trial By Fire’.

Mr. Patwardhan appealed against the cut – a 40 second sequence showing a charred body lying on the street and people walking past it without acknowledging its existence – arguing in his letter to the Tribunal Committee of the CBFC this shot “is an image of the consequences of human intolerance and savagery.” He also stated in his letter “there is one other reason for retaining this particular sequence. The people who are walking past that charred body as if nothing has happened are you and me. They are the Government. They are the censor board who would rather cut off that which they cannot bear to face up to — the fact that mindless hatred is taking over this land because we allow it to.”

After considering his appeal, the Tribunal Committee passed Part One without cuts and granted it a U certificate. However, because of this delay Mr. Patwardhan now faces an awkward situation. While Part Two of his film, which was passed earlier by the CBFC with an ‘A’ certificate, has been selected for the forthcoming Indian Panorama, he has missed the deadline of August 31 for Part One of the film. Thus, the jury for the Indian Panorama will only be able to consider a part of Mr. Patwardhan’s film, and that too the latter half, unless they make an exception and allow him to enter Part One even at this late stage.
This is of course not the first time that Mr. Patwardhan has had to face difficulties with the CBFC. A documentary film-maker of 20 years’ standing, with a repertoire of seven films of which three have won National Awards, Mr. Patwardhan has faced problems with the CBFC with practically all his films. His first film, “Prisoners of Conscience” made in 1978 after the Emergency, was denied a certificate on the grounds that the prisoners it portrayed were Naxalites. It was only cleared after a signature campaign involving many prominent personalities. Similarly, his film on Indian farm workers in Canada “A Time to Rise” (1982) was denied certification on the grounds that it might “offend Canadians.”

Mr. Patwardhan told The Hindu that his latest two-part film deals with the patriarchal roots of religion. While Part One concentrates on women and touches on issues like Sati Part Two touches on communalism and male insecurity. He says he would have liked to challenge the CBFC’s decision to give an ‘A’ certificate to Part Two but decided not to because he wanted to ensure that the film was entered for the Indian Panorama. But the delay in certifying Part One has resulted in his entering only one part.