Anjali Menon holds her audience in high regard. Going by the comments on her Facebook page and blog, the public too adore this film director, writer and producer.
It is thus no surprise that she begins the meeting by saying she wanted her audience to know the truth about the controversy surrounding her film ‘Manjadikuru.’
“I have been getting calls from the public since the issue began. I want to clarify things before the people,” she said at a meeting in the city on Friday.
The film came into controversy soon after it bagged three of the Kerala State Film Awards for 2012. Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce president Anil Thomas had alleged that ‘Manjadikuru’ had been censored twice and a ‘revised’ film was not eligible for the State Film Awards.
Responding to the allegations, Ms. Menon said the producers applied for a censorship certificate first in 2007 before the print of the film had been prepared. “But the process could not be completed because they said they could not issue a certificate based on the video output.” The film later ran into trouble due to a rift between the producers and had to be shelved for almost five years.
“After the film was completed, we applied and got a censor certificate. That is the only certificate the film has received,” she said.
She also produced a copy of a letter sent to her by Regional Censor Officer T.P. Madhukumar in which he said the certificate issued by the board on May 16, 2012, was “the first certificate issued in respect of the above film.” A letter from Prasad Film Laboratories, which made the print, to the Film Certification Board also clarified that “only one print (first copy)” of the film had been made.
The Kerala Film Chamber of Commerce had made the allegations based the inclusion of the film in the annual list prepared by the board in 2007. Ms. Menon said that the inclusion in the list may have been a mistake made in the board’s office and would have to be looked into from its side.
The awards received by the film at the International Film Festival of Kerala in 2008 before the print was ready were not State awards. ‘Manjadikuru’ had, therefore, received the State’s award only this year, she said.
Ms. Menon said she had been surprised when the controversy cropped up. “I had not been contacted by anyone before all of this. Those making the allegations still haven’t contacted me,” said Ms. Menon, who directed, produced and wrote the script for ‘Manjadikuru.’ Her award for best screenplay was among the three awards the film bagged at the State awards.
Ms. Menon said that it was a tough job being both producer and director of a film, a feat she is not keen to repeat anytime soon. “You can’t do both all the time. One job calls for absolute sensitivity. Being a producer calls for absolute toughness,” she said. Ms. Menon, who has a production company called Little Films, has great respect for those who produce and direct at the same time. “I admire those people. But I’m still struggling with it,” she said.
Meanwhile, she is working on a new film.