Censor certificate denied to docu on Emergency

A scene from the documentary 21 Months of Hell
S.R. Praveen THIRUVANANTHAPURAM 30 December 2017 23:32 IST
Updated: 31 December 2017 14:06 IST

Film showing police torture methods docu-fiction: board

The regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification has rejected censor certificate to a documentary film which explores the torture methods used by the police after Emergency was declared in 1975. The film 21 Months of Hell, directed by Yadu Vijayakrishnan, uses real life accounts of surviving victims of the torture, and also features re-enactments of the torture methods.

According to the director, the board members who viewed the film gave a series of reasons, including disrespect to the national flag and Mahatma Gandhi, and that the film cannot be considered a documentary as it had ‘fictional’ elements.

Controversial scenes


“The scene where the Gandhi reference comes is of a protest where the agitators raise the slogan of ‘Bolo Gandhiji ki Jai’. Policemen arrive on the scene to disperse the protesters, asking them to raise slogans for the Gandhi who is alive, rather than the one who is dead. In this scene, Gandhi is not portrayed negatively, the policeman who says that line is. In the same scene, a national flag falls on the ground from a protester’s hand, when he is beaten up. This is what the board members interpreted as disrespect,” said Mr. Vijayakrishnan.

The board members also had an issue with the language used, but the director says that there is not even one abusive word in the documentary.

“They told me that they cannot take the risk of certifying this, as the documentary is ‘political’. There is no narration or reference to the larger politics of the day. The documentary is aimed at chronicling the torture methods, through interviews of the victims, and re-enactments of the torture. A board official asked me whether I had any ‘written government proof’ of these torture methods. The voices of the victims were not enough, apparently,” he said.

No communication yet

Though the documentary was viewed by the board members and rejected on December 3, he is yet to get an update or communication regarding the same, on the date to approach the revising committee.

A board official told The Hindu that the documentary was rejected as it was “Emergency-related” and “had violence”.

“Most of the members thought the same about that documentary. Also, it was not a documentary, but a docu-fiction. Anyway, he has a chance to appeal to the revising committee. The communication to the director is delayed since there were a few errors in the reply that we got from the Mumbai office,” said the official.