The Censor Board has made a rather strange demand to give clearance to a documentary called An Insignificant Man, directed by Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, and produced by Anand Gandhi (Ship of Theseus).
The documentary chronicles the rise of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal from a member of the India Against Corruption movement to the leader of the Aam Aadmi Party. It has already traveled to festivals abroad, where it gained critical acclaim.
In India, it's release is uncertain as Pahlaj Nihalani has demanded that the makers, Khusboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, get an 'NOC' from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His argument? The film shows footage from Modi's rallies (something that has already been broadcast on TV channels). The Board also want the filmmakers to delete references to BJP and the Congress.
A Kerjiwal docu without references to BJP and Congress? Sounds impossible.
The film has been rejected by both, the Examining Committee as well as the Revising Committee. It'll be cleared once the makers abide by the diktats of the CBFC.
"Is Mr Nihalani expecting the Prime Minister to do the Censor chief's job now? If any of the concerned parties, including Mr. Modi, Mr. Kejriwal or Ms. Dixit have a problem, they can challenge us in court. Why is the Censor Board acting as a watchdog for politicians and as the gatekeeper for the establishment? Its job is to certify films, not guard politicians," an angry Khushboo Ranka told Mumbai Mirror.
Nihalani justified his decision saying that Karan Johar got a NoC from Raveena Tandon name in a film when he used her name in a film and so did the makers of Jolly LLB 2 for a reference to Salman Khan.
"In this case, as they have referred to Mr. Modi, Mr. Kejriwal, and Ms. Sheila Dixit among others, they should get NoCs from them," he said.
Earlier today, in a Facebook post, Anand Gandhi said, "The arbitrary board of India wants us to get a certificate from politicians to approve of their critique. Politicians, in their public roles, are open to reportage and journalistic scrutiny. Reporters, journalists, and documentarians don't need their permission for documenting them in their interactions with the people they intend to represent! Along with that, there is also a demand to mute the names Congress and BJP - from a journalistic piece of work!"
Ranka and Shukla aren't going to give up on the fight and have sworn to get their film released. The film, which opened at the Toronto Film Festival in 2016, has been entirely crowdfunded.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect producer Anand Gandhi's comments.
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