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Yet, a living breathing assertive human Durga with emotions and sexual desires, who defies patriarchal strictures in the slightest way, is damned as a questionable character unworthy of that same respect, as the film reminds us through the actions of those that Durga and Kabeer meet that night.
Durga — frozen as a statue — is worshipped in temples and her anger, her courage revered.The road has been long for for its release in Indian theatres.Though no reason was reportedly offered by CBFC, an indication comes from the Union Information & Broadcasting Ministry’s refusal in the previous month to grant the film an exemption — as is the norm — for Mumbai’s MAMI Festival with this declaration (quoted on Sasidharan’s Facebook page): “…Ministry is of the view that, it may affect the law and order as it hurts the religious sentiments, ‘Durga’ being a principal Hindu Goddess.A young woman in Kerala elopes with her boyfriend, or so we assume from their actions, though we may well be wrong.She is Hindu and he is Muslim, or so we gather from their names — Durga and Kabeer — though we may well be wrong about that too.Ayesha, likewise, is not just Prophet Mohammad’s wife, it is a common name among Indian Muslims.
The heroine of this film would have been as Indian if she had been an Ayesha or a Mary, but since Muslims form just over 14 per cent of India’s population as per the 2011 Census and Christians just over 2 per cent, the names on the other hand — in a country where Hindus form 60-80 per cent of the population (80 if you count SCs and STs) — implies a pan-India social commentary.
The applicant however, may approach the Central ‘Board of Film Certification for certification of this film in normal course instead of seeking exemption.” (sic) The director submitted his film to the CBFC, agreed to their demands, and the film was ultimately screened at MAMI in October with its new name, without offering any explanation, although both had been selected by the IFFI jury.
Since the news came just days before IFFI, Sasidharan was left with little time but he approached the Kerala High Court for relief all the same.
The Court last week ordered the Ministry to screen the film at IFFI, but the festival directorate first dilly-dallied by holding a re-screening of the censored version for re-clearance by the jury as late as on the evening of Monday, 27 November, a day before the festival’s closing date.
(This was a jury with three new recruits since three earlier members had resigned in protest against being barred from the festival.) The film was cleared again, reportedly with a 7:4 majority, but the Ministry did not schedule a screening.
The objection here is to the adjective “sexy” being placed alongside the name of a Hindu goddess, as if it is a dirty word.