Caught in a web of censorship

Poster of the movie Pithavinum Puthranum   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Deepesh T. is only one feature film old but he is already feeling the heat of censorship.

As a teacher of drawing at CHMHS, Thillankeri in Kannur, he always exhorts students to speak the truth. The filmmaker in him is no different.

Deepesh is bracing for what seems a long-drawn battle against the finding of the examining committee of the censor board that the content of his latest flick Pithavinum Puthranum (in the name of the Father and the Son) hurts the sentiments of a religious community.

Winner of the best director award in 2007 for his short film Typewriter, Deepesh had won critical acclaim for his debut movie Nakharam starring Ganesh Kumar and Sreelatha.

Made under the banner of Track ‘N’ Trolley productions, Pithavinum Puthranum’s cast includes Sunny Wayne, Dhwani, Rajshri Ponnappa, director V. K. Prakash, and art-director Sabu Cyril.

Pithavinum Puthranum is the story of two nuns in a convent. It’s a tale of human love. While one nun points towards the shortcomings in the church, the other rejects it. Rumours of the film being inspired by Sr. Jesme’s book Amen or the Sr. Abhaya incident are baseless,” Deepesh said over telephone from Kannur on Wednesday.

But T.P. Madhukumar, Regional Censor Officer (Kerala), said the examining committee had rejected censor certificate to the film stating that the content violates the guidelines that refer to showing a community in bad light. He said the makers of the movie could approach the revision committee seeking a review of the examination panel’s decision.

Asked whether the examination committee could have suggested some cuts or deletion of certain dialogues, Mr. Madhukumar said it was impossible, as then nothing would have remained in the work.

Deepesh alleged that the board had approached the movie with a pre-conceived notion that it had something derogatory against a particular community.

“I have two questions. By arresting Fr. Thomas Kottur (accused in the Sr. Abhaya murder case), does it mean that they had arrested Jesus Christ? It’s a fact that the church has several priests of high calibre and character. Secondly, is it not necessary to show visuals of characters consuming liquor, if I have to show a visual against the use of liquor? How else can a filmmaker narrate a story,” he asked.

Deepesh recalled that the censor board had adopted delaying tactics right from the moment the film was submitted for censoring. “The board officials asked me to submit the English script of the movie saying that they need to forward it to Delhi in view of several complaints against it. But they never disclosed the names and other details of the complainants,” he said.

The filmmaker said the original title of the movie was Pithavinum Puthranum Parishudatmavinum. “But I had to reduce it to Pithavinum Puthranum as the publicity clearance committee comprising members of various trade bodies in the industry recommended deletion of the word Parishudatmavinum,” he said.

Both Deepesh and Sundar Iritty, producer of the movie, said they plan to wage a democratic battle against the censor board’s decision. “We will soon submit the movie before the revision committee,” they said.

Dhwani, who plays the lead role of one of the nuns, said she never felt that the movie had anything against a community. “The nun’s character that I play is someone similar to Sr. Alphonsa. She is an embodiment of love and sacrifice. It’s a convent-based subject. But the content has nothing controversial,” she said.

Noted film director V. K. Prakash, who plays the role of priest, in the movie, said there was no reason for any controversy as the issue involves the freedom enjoyed by a filmmaker and the rights of the censor board to implement its guidelines while censoring the movie. They have to sort it out among themselves,” he said.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 1:54:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/caught-in-a-web-of-censorship/article4807853.ece

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