The BJP plans to screen the film free to create awareness on FDI in retail

The controversy over the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) acquiring rights of screening the award-winning Kannada film Bharat Stores has taken a new twist with director P. Seshadri stating that he is opposed to his film being, what he called, “politicised”.

The State unit of the BJP plans to screen the film for a period of six months, with the general election round the corner. The film speaks on the effect of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector and it is likely that its screening may embarrass the Congress under whose regime the Bill was passed, paving the way for FDI in retail.

‘I belong to no party’

When contacted, the director, whose film was shown at sixth edition of Bangalore International Film Festival (6BIFFes), he said: “I am opposed to the BJP’s ‘intention’ to politicise my film. I don’t belong to any political party or subscribe to their ideology. I make films to tackle issues plaguing society. Bharat Stores is not only about the impact of FDI but also about the impact of economic liberalisation ushered in by various governments in the last two decades. The BJP is equally responsible for this.”

Admitting that producer Basanth Kumar Patil consulted him before giving the rights of the film to the BJP, Mr. Seshadri said that he was told that Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, which was fighting FDI, would screen the film to create awareness among the people. He was happy that his film would be watched by a large number of people, besides providing some economic relief to the producer. “I will talk to the producer on the issue,” he said.

Good sum

When contacted, Mr. Patil said that the BJP leaders, including Ananth Kumar and Pralhad Joshi, had watched the film. Excited by the message in the film, they sought rights to screen the film “free” for six months to educate the people on FDI in retail business. “The party paid a fairly good sum of money in exchange. Even Mr. Seshadri gave his consent to that,” he added, refusing to divulge the amount involved.

Mr. Patil also clarified that he did not belong to any political party and there was no need for him to reconsider his decision. “As a producer, I want my films to be watched by people and am even prepared to make similar offer to the Congress, if that party wants it,” he said.

Appropriated

However, responding to the issue director B. Suresh said that it was unfortunate that a creative work which was a product of the Left ideology had been appropriated by the rightwing to meet its political ends.

Another director Kesari Harvoo is of the opinion that the stand of a creative person (director) is important here. Another director who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that he was not surprised as the BJP had a record of appropriating anything. “Now it has set its eye on the powerful film media,” he said.

State Secretary Communist Party of India (Marxists) G.V. Sriram Reddy observed that the BJP which failed to oppose FDI either in Parliament or outside had no moral right to show the film to the people. “The director of the film should have objected to the move,” he said.

‘Bad faith’

“I expect the director to express dissent against the BJP’s strategy to use his film because it (party move) stems from ‘bad faith’, which is problematic politically and artistically,” said writer-activist and member of Karnataka Komu Sauharda Vedike Shivasundar.

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