With only hours left till the International Film Festival of India closes, the jury has tossed the ball into the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting's court to make a final call on whether or not Kerala filmmaker Sanal Sasidharan's SDurga should be screened.
Responding to a petition filed by Malayalam filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) organisers to include and exhibit his film S Durga at the event under the Indian Panorama section.
Despite the court's order, the movie has till now not be screened. A four-hour long meeting by the IFFI panel Monday evening could only ascertain that the final decision will be taken by the I&B ministry, which had earlier objected to the screening of the film.
The panel’s acting head, Rahul Rawail, who replaced Sujoy Ghosh, who resigned in protest against the I&B ministry’s decision to drop SDurga and Nude from the Indian Panorama screening schedule, said the jury's decision will be formally conveyed to the Kerala High Court by the I&B ministry.
Refusing to elaborate, Rawail said the matter was 'sub-judice'.
Asked about his thoughts on the development, Sasidharan said, "I have lost interest in this altogether. What has happened is very unfair. I don't want to indulge in all this anymore. It is not about my film anymore. It is about the system being ruined. Actually, it is the condition of all the citizens. It is ridiculous."
According to Sanal, if the film is not screened on the festival's last day today, he may file a contempt of court case against the festival and the ministry.
"If the executives are not obeying the judiciary, then it is a constitutional issue. I may file a contempt of court case," he told PTI.
The film, earlier titled Sexy Durga, follows the horrifying experience of two hitchhikers, a man and a woman, at the hands of two men in the dead of the night. It had won the Hivos Tiger Award in the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017.
The Information and Broadcasting ministry, headed by Smriti Irani, however, objected to the film.
Overruling the recommendation of the 13-member jury, the Information and Broadcasting ministry pulled out Sasidharan's film S Durga and the Marathi movie Nude from the 48th edition of the film festival.
"The government is duty bound to ensure the public screening of my film without any obstruction. But look what is happening. The government is taking a stand with the oppressors and denying me my right to screen the film. If these things are decided by a minister or a ministry arbitrarily, please, let us not call it democracy," Sasidharan had told Outlook in an interview.
He had moved the Kerala High Court against the I&B ministry's order, which then ruled in his favour.
The petition submitted to the High Court states that the film has nothing against Goddess Durga, or any other religious icons. It has no vulgarity or obscenity, and the ones opposing movie have not made any attempts to watch or understand the nuances of the film, it adds.
The ministry tried to obtain a stay order on the Kerala High Court's decision but it was denied by the court.