It seems like the controversy surrounding the screening of S Durga at the 48th International Film Festival of India isn't going cease in a hurry. There are only a few hours left for this year's festival to come to a close and there still isn’t any clarity on the screening of the movie.
On Monday, the Sanal Sasidharan-directed film was screened for the jury members at the Kala Academy amidst heightened security following the Kerala High Court's order, which stated, “The certified version of the film S Durga will be viewed by the jury and on that basis, the film will be exhibited in the Indian Panorama of the IFFI.”
Despite all jury members being locked in the screening theatre till late, the fate of S Durga at the 48th edition of IFFI still remained in jeopardy. The jury members refused to divulge whether they had given a green signal to the movie after they saw the film at around 5 pm. Filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who is also the convenor of the preview committee of IFFI 2017, actor-director Satish Kaushik and senior journalist Sudhir Chaudhary were also reportedly added to the jury list.
Filmmaker Rahul Rawail, who is currently the acting chairperson of the jury, refused to disclose the jury's verdict to the media and simply said, "Its decision will be sent to the (I&B) ministry and the ministry will hand it over to the court." He further said he would not be able to talk about it much as "the matter is sub judice".
Reacting to it, Sasidharan said, "I have no idea what's happening. The festival director is not saying anything. I talked to the jury chairman; he says that the matter is sub judice. When I said that the order is very clear, he asks me to bring him a new order."
The director added, "It is not only wrong, it is a denial of constitution and judiciary. In a way, we can say that we fought well and they were exposed and all, but now a kind of fear that nothing can change them creeps in."
However, Sasidharan claimed that the jury "voted in favor of the film".
S Durga narrates the horrifying experience of a hitchhiking couple and has won critical acclaim at various film festivals abroad. The director had moved the court after the film was dropped from the Indian Panorama section of the festival along with the Marathi film Nude. Both the films were dropped by the ministry which prompted jury members Sujoy Ghosh and Apurva Asrani to resign. Following the move, the Indian Panorama jury was reconstituted with Rawail as its chairman and filmmaker Satish Kaushik and media person Sudhir Chaudhary as the other members.
A two-judge bench of the high court had directed the I&B ministry to screen the film at IFFI. Today is the last day of the festival. Film screenings for delegates end before the closing ceremony begins, which is scheduled for 4 pm.