Mamata Faces Flak For Pulling Bengali Film From Kolkata Theaters
Poster of Bhobishyoter Bhoot. 
Poster of Bhobishyoter Bhoot. (Photo courtesy: Twitter)

Mamata Faces Flak For Pulling Bengali Film From Kolkata Theaters

The taking down of a Bengali film, Anik Dutta’s Bhobishyoter Bhoot, from theaters in Kolkata, a day after it released on 15 February - has been seen as a “victim of a vendetta” by the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government, Scroll reported.

Bhobishyoter Bhoot is the sequel to Dutta’s allegorical comedy Bhooter Bhobishyot, which was released in 2012. Following this move, artists and activists staged a demonstration on Sunday, 17 February.

“Despite release orders issued to the exhibitors with advances paid for exhibition of the film from 15 Feb to 21 Feb 2019, yet without any prior notice or information, they suddenly withdrew the film on the afternoon of 16 Feb,” a press release by the film’s producers, Indibily Creative Pvt Ltd said, Scroll reported.

The press release further claimed that when the Director and some members from the film’s cast and crew went to visit an Inox chain in South Kolkata, they were told by one of its employees - that he had received strict instructions from senior authorities to not show the film, and also to reimburse earlier bought tickets.

Calling out the Mamata Banerjee government for initiating censorship, the artists and activists protesting on Sunday led by actor Joyraj Bhattacharjee., carried placards and banners such as “Amar Didi shilpi didi, amar Didi kobi, police diye bondho koren notun Bangla chobi,” (My Big Sister is an artist, my Big Sister is a poet, and she uses the police to censor a new Bengali film), the report added.

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Speaking to Scroll, Joyraj said: “What an artist can say or cannot say cannot be forcibly decided by any authority, and when that happens, that is fascism.”

According to the press release, the new film “mourns the living dead and the ghosts propose to become relevant in the future and support the cause of the marginalised to protect their rights.”

Speaking to Scroll, actor Kaushik Sen, who is part of the cast of the film, said that while the film is a political satire of sorts and does refer to left and right leanings, it did not warrant a non-exhibit in the theaters within a span of 48 hours and no prior warning.

“Free speech issues aside, this is also a financial setback for the producers,” he said.

Director Anik Dutta couldn’t think of a clear-cut explanation for the ban on him film either. Speaking to Scroll, he said:

“I don’t know why they stopped our film’s screening – maybe, they don’t like my face,” Dutta said. “We didn’t target any political party or person taking names in our film. Then, party A thinks we are from party B and vice versa.”

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However, he did allege that the state government’s problems with the film, may be due to its links with leading Bengali producer SVF, set up by cousins Shrikant Mohta and Mahendra Soni, with the former being arrested by the CBI in connection with the politically sensitive Rose Valley ponzi scam.

The film cast and crew also alleged that producer Kalyanmoy Chatterjee had received a phone call and two letters from the West Bengal Intelligence Special Branch- one saying it had information about the film and another, asking for a private screening for the police by 12 February.

(With inputs from Scroll)

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