It’s no surprise that the Censor Board in India never approves majority of the films being made lately. Well considering it’s probably a reason why the citizens don’t like the CB or even film-makers who try to voice an opinion. So why is it that they can refuse such films without any reason? I mean you would think one would give a valid reason to why they would reject a film? Wouldn’t you agree? Well, 40 days after the censor board declared to the media that they have refused to give a censor certificate to Kamal Swaroop’s documentary Battle for Banaras, the censor board is yet to officially communicate to the producer the reason for the rejection of the film. That’s not surprising!
The documentary was officially invited to play at the 17th Jio Mami Mumbai Film Festival but the invitation was withdrawn in the absence of clarity on the censor certificate.
“This lack of clarity and communication from the censor board is irresponsible,” says Manu Kumaran (Bombay Boys, Yellow, Storage 24) the producer of the film. “It’s outrageous that the censor board chief Pahalaj Nihalani has the time to run down the film in the media but has no time to do his duty of communicating officially the reason for the rejection of the film,” says Kumaran.
Director Kamal Swaroop adds,
“It is an attempt to understand the crowd phenomenon, anthropologically, without getting into voter politics,” he argues, pointing out that people are talking not just about Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi in the film but also about 40 other candidates across political parties. “Of course the main face-off is between Modi and Kejriwal with the latter having a slight edge till the polarisation happened. Then, the Muslim votes went to him while Modi swept the Hindu votes, including the Dalits.”
The film was screened for the censor board on 27th August.
“We contest each and every claim made by Mr Nihalani in the media. The film is neither pro Kejriwal or against any politician. It is not a political satire. Kamal Swaroop has only documented what happened in the general election,” said Kumaran. “We will fight this unjust ruling of the censor board. But this can happen if instead of talking to the media, they officially issue a letter stating the reasons for rejection. This delay tactic by the censor is both unwanted and unprecedented,” says Kumaran.
Inspired by Nobel laureate Elias Canetti’s book, ‘Crowds and Power’, the documentary, The Battle for Banaras captures the excitement, the madness and the noise behind the high-octane poll battle in the holy city of Banaras, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s parliamentary constituency. And in the process, for the first time lays bare the equation and politics of democracy called India.
Produced by Manu Kumaran and Mediente International Films, the documentary was shot in 4K, over a 44-day schedule in Banaras during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.