The 13-member jury of the feature film category under the Indian Panorama section of the International Film Festival of India 2017, including the three newly nominated members replacing the three resigned members, watched the Malayalam film ‘S Durga’ at a special screening at the jury room of Kala Academy on Monday as per the Kerala High Court order and conveyed their decision to the Union ministry of information and broadcasting.
The original jury chairman Sujoy Ghosh, as well as two other jury members – Apurva Asrani and Gyan Correa – had resigned, after the I&B ministry, without citing any reason dropped ‘S Durga’ and a Marathi film, ‘Nude’, which were selected by the jury members. They have been replaced by new jury members including noted film actor and director Satish Kaushik and editor-in-chief of Zee News Sudhir Chaudhury.
Speaking to the media persons, new chairman of the feature film category under the Indian Panorama section Rahul Rawail said the film has been screened for jury and decision has been taken by the jury members.
“The matter has been given to the I&B ministry, which will hand it over to the court and then the orders will come from the court,” he added, pointing out, “I cannot say anything more as the matter is sub-judice.”
Rawail however refused to comment on the nomination of the new jury members, replacing the resigned ones.
Emerging from a two-hour meeting following the one-and-a-half hour long screening, newly nominated member Satish Kaushik said that a decision has been taken, but he cannot comment on it individually. “We have submitted our decision to the authorities. You will come to know soon,” he added.
Last week, the Kerala High Court had directed the IFFI organisers to screen the film, and then the court, despite a request from the Union ministry for information and broadcasting, refused to stay this order.
Sanal Sasidharan, the director of the Malayalam film, said that mockery has been made of the Kerala High Court order.
“This is brazen act of the executive, and henceforth, I am afraid, the filmmakers will have to make films, which would be liked by the system,” he observed, adding that he is now uncertain as to who holds the power in this country, the judiciary or the executive.
Sasidharan also predicted that in the future, the film festival jury would be replaced by the I&B Ministry officials.
As the nine-day film festival comes to a close on November 28, it now appears unlikely that ‘S Durga’ will find a screening slot at the film festival.