the screening of sanjay's film on kashmir got stopped not once but twice. first at bhupesh bhavan, on the 27th and then at prithvi on the 30th.
both the screenings were organised by vikalp
on the first day the police barged in saying that they could not allow the film to be screened on the basis of one email complaint by some person who says that this film could spread unrest, and create a law and order situation. the police, after much fanfare, sealed the DVD and went off saying that they would have to see the film before they can allow a screening.
on monday, the law and order issue was kept aside ( because it remains a flimsy excuse and the police can be easily embarassed, and the censor certificate bogey was used.
technically, any screening of a film without a censor certificate is illegal. so a screening at a festival, a film club, a preview for the press or fellow filmmakers, even a screening in your home, can be stopped- the distinction between a private screening and public screening does not exist in law. absurd, but thats the law.
and the law goes unchallenged. we come up with one strategy after the next to screen films that are not part of the mainstream distribution network.
so why does this particular film get targeted? because it represents real voices from kashmir?
voices that we dont want to hear? narratives we dont want to see and deal with?
what the mainstream press tells us is what forms our opinions and we remain content within that- encounters, ambushes, bomb blasts, terrorist outfits....thats kashmir. and ofcourse the sham of hoisting the flag every 15th august in the heart of srinagar and telecasting it -the mandatory folk songs sung by young girls in traditional kashmiri gear. year after year we see these images.
to come back to the title of this post. it took one email complaint for the police to leave aside everything to stop the screening of this film that chose not to show the usual stories that come out of kashmir.
what does that one email represent - the complete inability to tolerate another way of seeing. and the police readily acts on this impulse, what else are they here for?
for me it also represents the precarious, very precarious space on which we stand- the group that has been working tirelessly to create and alternative space for viewing and discussing documentaries and short fiction films. a space that is not shaped by commerce -box office numbers, trp ratings, advertising revenue - as independent filmmakers we hold onto this space so we can keep doing the work we do, in the way we want to! and one email is all that it took to stop this screening. could we be on more precarious ground?
meanwhile people are arrested because they were carrying fact finding reports of state excesses in different parts of the country. gosh what incriminating evidence!!!