Why Was The FTII Screening Of A Film On A Dalit Folk Artist Cancelled?

Director Harishankar Nachimuthu said he was told 'security reasons' was why the screening couldn't take place.

Hora, a 20-minute based on the life of a Dalit woman called Rupali Jadhav (also a member of Kabir Kala Manch) was to be screened at FTII. But the screening now stands cancelled on the grounds that the filmmaker did not take prior permission from the institute for its public screening. The screening was to take place on Thursday at 6 pm.

Director Harishankar Nachimuthu, 30, who made the film as a part of his academic work, said he was told ‘security reasons’ was why the screening couldn’t take place. Things turned murky when the director alleged that the police and the FTII director were cancelling the screening after succumbing to the pressure of ‘right-wing groups’. “The institute told me that the screening was cancelled for security reasons as advised by the police. I was told about this only yesterday (Wednesday),” Nachimuthu was quoted by Hindustan Times.

FTII Director Bhupendra Kainthola dismissed the filmmaker’s allegations terming them ‘preposterous’. “The allegation that FTII cancelled the screening under pressure from a particular organisation is so preposterous and baseless that replying to it would lend dignity to it”, said Kainthola to the media outlet.

Kabir Kala Manch is one of the organisations that helped organise the Elgar Parishad at Shaniwarwada, following which the Bhima-Koregaon violence broke out on December 31, 2017. And with chairman-appointees like Gajendra Chauhan and (currently) Anupam Kher, it is hard to deny the influence of the BJP (and by association ‘right-wing groups’) on the FTII campus.

However, Kainthola firmly stood his ground saying, “In this case, Nachimuthu invited outsiders for the screening without intimating the authorities. He publicised the screening schedule on social media, keeping the authorities in the dark. Further, the film did not have CBFC (Central Board for Film Certification) certificate” according to this Indian Express report.

If this is another power move by those within India’s premier film institute, it will hardly be the first time. Back in 2013, five FTII students had allegedly been assaulted by members of ABVP for organising a screening of Anand Patwardhan’s Jai Bheem Comrade outside National Film Archive Of India.