Film 'ridiculing' Mamata denied clearance, director cries foul

Kolkata, Feb 25 (IANS) The censor board has denied approval to a Bengali film for "distorting history" by ridiculing the swearing-in ceremony of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as well as her Singur movement which caused Tata Motors exit from the state.

A member of the board's regional revising committee, however, cited the "obscene and abusive language" in the movie as the reason behind denial of clearance for it.

"Kangal Malsat (Beggars' war cry)", based on a Nabarun Bhattacharya novel of the same name, and directed by Suman Mukhopadhyay, has also been refused certification for "irresponsibly portraying" Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Mukhopadhyay, alleging "political motivation" behind the move, claimed that the censor board's objection against Stalin is a "cover-up as it does not want to allow a movie which is a burlesque on Banerjee's dream to turn Kolkata into London".

"The movie is a burlesque and takes satirical hit on Kolkata turning London as well as Tata's (Motors) departure from Singur. The decision to disallow my movie is politically motivated," he maintained.

"It is dangerous for a democratic state to act in such a manner where artists cannot be allowed to express their views freely," said Mukhopadhyay.

The censor board, in its letter to Mukhopadhyay, has raised three issues.

"The portrayal of Stalin is so irresponsibly done in the film that the dogmatic statement may hurt the sentiments of many Stalinists in the country and may create unrest on public screening," the board said.

"The way 'Departure of Tata Company' has been uttered in the film, it seems to malign or at least look down upon a significant movement of a civic society."

"The way the Honb'le CM, Ms. Mamata Banerjee's oath-taking ceremony has been shown seems distortion of history and may hurt many common people of West Bengal and create sensation (violence)," it added.

In the movie, a person is shown watching the swearing-in ceremony dispassionately and later rebel Trinamool parliamentarian Kabir Suman, who features in the movie, says: "The Tatas have cut a sorry figure. Now there are so many committees. They are making Kolkata into London..."

"Where in the world is a law that a person cannot watch a swearing in ceremony dispassionately? Has every person watching it to be jovial?" questions Mukhopadhyay.

Following allegation of forcible land acquisition by the erstwhile Left Front government for a car manufacturing factory in Hooghly district's Singur, Banerjee then in the opposition had led a peasant movement against it, causing the government to abandon the industrial project. Tata Motors subsequently shifted the project to Gujarat.

Filmmaker Haranath Chakraborty, member of the censor board's regional revising committee, rubbished claims of political motivation behind denial of certification and said the movie is full of "obscene and abusive language".

"There are no political reasons for denying certification to the film. From the beginning to the end, almost all the characters use offensive and abusive language," said Chakrabarty, one of the key members of Banerjee's cultural think-tank.

"We asked the director to tone down the language but he refused. Consequently, we had to deny the certification," added Chakrabarty.

Kabir Suman, refuting Chakrabarty's claims, said: "This is not the first or the only movie which has abuses. There are numerous Hindi movies which have such language and they have been allowed."

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