Staff Reporter

Clause 8 of regulations exercises covert censorship, says Saba Dewan

Clause 8 gives the selection committee the right not to accept a filmBut it has never been used since the MIFF started in 1990, says chief producer of Films Division

MUMBAI: The ghosts of the past have come to haunt the ninth edition of the Mumbai International Film Festival, or MIFF, beginning February 3 2005, with one withdrawal and one resignation in protest of clause 8 of the regulations.

Filmmaker Saba Dewan has pulled out her film "Delhi Mumbai Delhi," to oppose clause 8 of the regulations put in place by the Film Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The clause reserves the right of the appointed selection committee to not accept a film after selection. Saba Dewan had entered her new film, "Delhi Mumbai Delhi" which follows Ria, a bar dancer for over a period of one year before and after the ban on dance bars in Mumbai. Ms. Dewan said, "The film deals with several issues, including that of the ban. It makes a point about the ban, about depriving women their right to livelihood. To treat them as moral delinquents is ridiculous. The film is for the freedom of working class women. Granted we have limited choices, but at least they have to be available."

An advocator of freedom in all respects, Ms. Dewan has withdrawn her film, as clause 8 has not been removed. "I am personally opposed to any kind of censorship. This clause is exercising censorship in a covert manner. It may not have been used this year but why should we wait and see if the clause is used or not. It remains a threat to our freedom."

Raghu Krishna, chief producer, Films Division, denies any such charge on curtailing freedom. He said, "The censorship clause has been removed this year. Clause 8, which speaks about the right to not accept a selected film, has existed since the inception of the festival in 1990. However, it has never been used. Even this year all the films, which the selection committee finalised, are part of the festival. Saba Dewan had entered her film `Delhi Mumbai Delhi.' She is free to withdraw her film. But one must understand that this is just a one-off case and no other film has been withdrawn."

In 2004, MIFF had been controversy-ridden when several filmmakers withdrew their films and an alternative festival was organised by Vikalp. The contentious issue was the use of the censorship clause against Indian films and documentaries whereas there was no restriction on foreign films. The clause has been removed for this edition of the MIFF.