Objects to use of word ‘daayan’ in ‘Ek thi Daayan’ and ‘negative portrayal of women’

The National Commission of Women (NCW) irked by the non-responsiveness of producers of the film Ek Thi Daayan – who were summoned to the Commission earlier this week to explain their stand following a complaint against use of the word ‘daayan’ in the film title and derogatory portrayal of women in the film – has now written to the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) asking for its intervention in the matter.

Filmmaker-composer Vishal Bhardwaj and producer Ekta Kapoor were to explain to the Commission about their portrayal of women in the film, but Bhardwaj refused to screen the film before the Commission. A complaint against the film was filed by Ipsita Roy Chakraverti, a Wiccan priestess, stating that it showed women in a very regressive light. She had also written to President Pranab Mukherjee requesting him to ban the film as it promotes witchcraft.

Nirmala Samant Prabhavalkar, the NCW member handling the case, said: “Women being branded as ‘daayan’ and subjected to various atrocities is a common and dangerous practice that still happens in several parts of the country. Such films being introduced into the society without adequate checks and balances, we fear, will further weaken the position of women.”

Ms. Prabhavalkar further said that since the film producers felt they are not answerable to the NCW and could go ahead with the release of the film since the CBFC hadn’t raised any objection, “we are left with no other option but to approach the CBFC”.

The NCW in its letter to the CBFC noted: “The Commission strongly feels that the use of the word ‘daayan’ has caused many atrocities and violence against the women in India. Because of this superstition women are subjected to severe physical violence – they are severely assaulted and often subjected to extreme violence leading to broken nose, teeth, eyes and limbs. There are even cases where such women are burnt alive.”

Ms. Prabhavalkar said the Commission also objects to the manner in which this film is being promoted in the media. “We have told the CBFC that we find no relevance of the Press launch where a ‘bus’ was used. The bus was used under the title ‘Bus to Hell’ where the producers, we feel, were trying to exploit the barbaric gang-rape of the 23-year-old in Delhi on December 16. The producers have, however, claimed that there is no connection between the two incidents,” said Ms. Prabhavalkar.

“It is now up to the CBFC to take a stand to ensure that women are not portrayed in a manner that is completely derogatory,” she added.

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