Axe on Documentary (“A Time to Rise”)

A. Mahadevan, TAKE 2, May 1982Yet another film is facing trouble in the wake of the obnoxious norms of the censors. Shuttled in the usual fashion from the normal examining board to the revising committee, the fate of Anand Patwardhan’s documentary ‘A Time to Rise’ an outcome of his own involvement with the immigrant farm worker’s struggle in Canada, now hangs in the balance as the revising committee members bitten by the ” straining-of-cordial-relations-with-nations” bug are at a loss to decide whether the film should be passed or not. The matter has now been referred to Government Officials in the capital and Anand has been asked to despatch the print to the Ministry of information and Broadcasting.The drama is a repeat of the vagaries of the censors in the past regarding similar issues. Remember ‘Midnight Express’ where the Turkish relations were involved? But while one may be inclined to accept this decision due to the probably exaggerated account of Turkish jails in that film, Patwardhan’s ‘A Time To Rise’ is an on the spot true-to-life document of the exploitation of farm workers under the labour contract system and rightly picks up cudgels against a benefit-less system and has even been bought by the National Film Board of Canada for distribution in their country without the ironic hassles that are plaguing the film in India. The 40 minute documentary (16mm) has also bagged the prestigious ‘Silver Dove’ at the 1981 Leipzig International Film Festival and as such is an eye-opener to the hitherto unknown facts about several Sikh farmers in Canada subjugated ruthlessly.It is indeed ironical that while on the one hand we clamour for more investigative and realistic film-making, the high-ups are themselves responsible for its stagnancy, on the other. The prevailing situation is itself a sad document on shocking standards of checking the freedom of thought and expression. One looks forward to better sense prevailing at the top and the immediate clearance of a thought-provoking account.Back¬†