[Reader-list] Sanjay Kak's response

Shivam Vij mail at shivamvij.com
Tue Aug 28 00:17:25 IST 2007

The heated discussions here about the screening of Sanjay Kak's film
allegedly over another film have left me wondering about Sanjay Kak's
response. Sure enough - it is there on the Jash-e-Azadi blog, and my
apologie if someone has already pointed that out. I take the liberty
to post it here in its entirety in the hope that some of this malice
will be put to rest and good sense will prevail - thouh I know that is
not going to happen!

I find Sanjay's response convincing and it doesn't even need to be
said the attacks on the film are utterly bigoted. But Sanjay's
response moves me to urge him to make the entire film available online
for free, should this be feasible. Let them go to the police and have
YouTube blocked, many thousand will raise their hands for free speech.


o o o o o o o

[ blogflash 14 : heavy handed criticism! ]

This morning there was a call from the Hauz Khas Police Station, from
Station House Officer Kukreti, asking if there was a screening of the
film planned for later in the day at a college in their jurisdiction.
(There was one planned, as part of the ongoing film-club run within
this undergraduate institution by the media students. And this was the
second call: last evening Sub Inspector Rajiv Kumar from the same
Police Station had called.)

Once again, like in Mumbai, the anxieties of the police were fuelled
by a specific "tip-off": they had received a two-page written
complaint informing them that the film was being screened without a
censor certificate, and invoked a past history of provocation–
starting from a 'noisy' screening at the Habitat Center Film Club, and
all the way up to the 'dvd seizure' by the Mumbai Police only three
weeks ago. The complaint (by one Sunil Tikoo) was comprehensive, and
included images of the Mumbai 'seizure' (probably downloaded from this
very blog!) and helpfully accompanied by my cell phone number.

So instead of previewing the film with the students, I have an
afternoon off to write this. And contemplate how you can disrupt
screenings, then make those disruptions the grounds to create further
disruptions. Must make sense to someone!

What I also still fail to understand is the sheer energy with which a
group of people have been tracking the film around, filing written
complaints about it, following the complaints up with the police,
scanning the net for news of more "illegal" screenings… I mean what
are they afraid of? If this film doesn't meet the standards that
people have set for documentary films, surely viewers will just
dismiss it and move on? The largest screening we've done recently was
at the Osian Cine-fan festival last month in New Delhi: from the
evidence of the screening and the Q&A, people were moved – and
disturbed – by the film. And the evidence from previews in 10 cities
doesn't seem to suggest that viewers – or indeed the press – have been
driven into paroxysms of rage, or discontent, nothing.

So what's up? Why try to come in the way of the film and it's
audience? Surely if the arguments that the film is making are
incomplete, flawed, one-sided, whatever, surely people will be able to
figure that out? Or is the argument about Kashmir in the Indian mind
so fragile, so constructed, and so hollow, that even one film that
refuses to buy into that brittle construct is seen as a mortal threat?

Many of us have spent years talking about State censorship and how we
must fight it – here the state, in the form of the Mumbai and Delhi
Police, seems to be doing no more than fulfilling the censorial
impulses of a section of people. (Which is why I sometimes wonder: is
this still the State apparatus, but working through the benign cover
of a section of people? Not easy to figure out.)

I know the argument has been made that the film represents only
'one-side' of the argument. But if this alone were to be grounds for
stopping films, I can think of a few that would qualify strongly.
We've seen other 'one-sided' masala films on Kashmir failing to pull
in even a weeks crowd into a cinema theatre (can't remember the title,
but could it be Barf?). There are other equally one-dimensional
non-fiction compilations that have to be shoved down people's throats
– and still have no takers. So why not let Mother Nature take her
course – let the strong arguments survive, and the fluff fly away. But
let the audiences decide. Not the Police. And not the invocation of
the Censor Board.

We welcome responses. (Abuse will have to trickle away elsewhere!)

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