When Anik Dutta’s latest film, Bhobishyoter Bhoot, released on Friday, the director was hoping to replicate the success story of his 2012 hit, Bhooter Bhobishyot. The film released on February 15, by that very evening theatre owners began to pull it down from the screens. In spite of having been certified by CBFC, theatre owners refused to screen the film. Instead, offering to refund the ticket price to patrons who had already booked tickets. When asked the reason behind this arbitrary action, the managers only came up with ‘orders from senior authorities’.
One of the most popular conjectures among the protesters was, that it was Mamata Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress (TMC) who unofficially ordered the theatre-owners to refrain from the screening the film. According to this report in Scroll, the management of INOX claimed that they got a phone call from the local police thana about a possible law and order situation inside the multiplex, provided the film kept playing. Director Anik Dutta claimed that the initial reason he was given about the film being taken down was because of the ‘server being down’ at the respective theatres.
“I find it hard to believe that everyone from INOX to PVR to even the single theatres, had their ‘server down’ only for my film.” – Dutta was heard saying during a Facebook live from the film’s official page. Actor/member of the cast, Chandrayee Ghosh was heard saying in a similar Facebook live – “we were being pressurised from our shooting days. To the extent, that one day Anikda had to expressly stop shooting so as to deal with protesters demanding that we stop shooting within an hour.”
In November 2018, Anik Dutta criticised Mamata Banerjee for splashing hoardings with her face on it, all around the Kolkata International Film Festival venues, instead of the posters of films being screened. Dutta’s latest film is a political satire that takes on those in power, and even that could be one of the reasons behind such harassment.
Many members of the cast, crew and their contemporaries appeared in solidarity with the filmmaker, in what they claim is a “blatant attempt to silence artistic expression”. Some even called this the most malicious manner of trying to censor a film, even after it had been cleared by the CBFC and deemed fit for public viewing. The state government hasn’t issued a statement on the matter yet, and the police force seem hesitant to intervene in a law & order situation at any of the screening venues. Meanwhile, the film has already lost out on its opening weekend, it remains to be seen if the controversy helps the film’s collections like Padmaavat.