Kolkata: Director Prabhat Roy’s admission that Amitabh Chakraborty‘s ‘Cosmic Sex’ hasn’t been granted screening at Nandan for ‘aesthetic concerns’ has come under scanner. Apart from the film fraternity in Tollywood, the comment has also sent shock waves in Bollywood that has just recovered from the “Udta Punjab” censorship row.
On Thursday, Roy told TOI: “I was part of CBFC that had suggested the cuts for the film. I was also part of the screening committee of Nandan. But we decided not to screen the film at Nandan because of aesthetic concerns. The black patches (on the nude scenes) look awful on the big screen of Nandan. The Nandan audience is used to a certain kind of aesthetics and this film isn’t meant for that.” But, actor-turned-IT minister Bratya Basu said, “With due respect to the screening committee, I still feel a film that has been screened at various festivals and has got a censorship certificate must be allowed to be shown at Nandan.”
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt also reacted. Calling it the “tyranny of the tastemakers”, he said, “These self-appointed custodians of culture are fascists who masquerade as artists. It’s high time their bluff is called.” Director Buddhadeb Dasgupta said: “Nandan was made to support a certain kind of cinema. I can vouch for this movie and say it’s brilliant. ‘Deha tathya’ is practised in various parts of Bengal. Amitabh has bravely handled the subject in the film. Aesthetically, the film is brilliant.”
Haranath Chakarborty, who was part of the revising committee that had granted an A certificate to the film, believes that those who don’t understand ‘deha tathya’ will miss the essence of the film. “For them, it will become just another movie on sex. But I think, it’s a great film. However, it’s not in my jurisdiction to comment on why Nandan refused to screen it,” he said. Director Kaushik Ganguly, who acknowledged that Nandan has the right to screen movies before showing them, was surprised when he heard that the film had been screened at festivals like Osians Cine Fan Festival of Arab and Asian Cinema and Kerala International Film Festival. “Then, I’m not sure that the film should be disallowed from Nandan.” We need more explanation from the screening committee. I also feel that Nandan should be reserved mostly for arthouse Bangla cinema,” Ganguly said.
Director Sekhar Das suggested that Nandan should review its guidelines for showcasing a film.”Just like the Cinematograph Act, 1952, needs to be revamped, Nandan screening guidelines too need to change,” he suggested.Box:
I was part of CBFC that had suggested the cuts for the film. We had suggested these cuts on full frontal nudity. When the makers used black and white patches to cover that, we couldn’t refuse them certification. But Nandan has a few rules for screening. We don’t show films that are high on violence. Cheap movies aren’t screened either. The films also need to be technically good. Technically, “CS” isn’t bad. But the black patches look awful on the big screen of Nandan. The Nandan audience is used to a certain kind of aesthetics. Let them show the film elsewhere and leave it to the audience to accept or reject it.
Nandan’s refusal smacks of a puritanical attitude. This film was screened at the Cine Central festival in Kolkata. Did they choose a film that wasn’t aesthetic enough? This is sheer hypocrisy. Nandan hosts foreign films at festivals that are often high on sexual content. But it takes a stand on morality in case of Bengali independent cinema!
When my ‘Kaaler Rakhal’ was released, there were apprehensions that it wouldn’t get screened at Nandan because I had allegedly glorified terrorism. Buddhadeb Bhattacharya had finally watched it and given his nod for screening. It’s important for Nandan to revise its rules for screening movies.