March 31, 2020
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Shekhar Kapur

The censors have ravaged Bandit Queen. Now, the director is baying for blood.

Shekhar Kapur
outlookindia.com
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You are really cut up. Why aren't you fighting back?
I have no legal rights and going to court means fighting for six months over it. The question here is not only that of Bandit Queen but the right of an artiste over his work, where his work is exploited and changed at will.

Has any other director expressed solidarity with you?
Mahesh Bhatt, Ramesh Sippy, Mani Ratnam, Mukul Anand, Ram Gopal Varma, and Subhash Ghai have. Mani too went through the same problem.

Have you approached Amitabh Bachchan?
I did meet him, but my hands are tied unless the producer agrees to be a man, not a wimp. Bobby Bedi must learn to stop being a baniya and a dalal.

Do you think that the censors have deleted key scenes from your film?
The censorship has been totally arbitrary. They have derogatorily said that Hindi cinema has no relevance to reality. But they are the ones, living in ivory towers, who can't take reality when it is given to them.

Does the director's creativity get undermined by external factors?
I have been humiliated. Steven Spielberg's film escaped Indian censorship because he is white. Shekhar Kapur is black. There is more racial prejudice in India than anywhere else in the world.

A spokesperson from ABCL said that the editing is really slick.
That is nonsense. This was never meant to be a slick film. That is an irresponsible statement and arrogant too as cutting was done without the director's consent.

Who then is to be blamed? Producer Bobby Bedi or distributors ABCL?
Bedi is at fault. He accepted the cuts, and also compromised on artistic integrity.

What does the original bandit queen say on this?
Phoolan Devi last told me that she stands by me. She says she will go to the censors if need be. She has been categorical in her support.

What has pained you most in this sordid mess?
No pain. Just very, very deep anger.

Will you opt for elimination from the credits?
I'm not going to ask for that, because I have already made my stand clear through my press statements. But I am not going to let them go. I am going to let them have it.

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