An Insignificant Man cleared for release by FCAT: 'NOCs from politicians not required'

FP Staff

Aug,21 2017 11:00 58 IST

Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla, the two young filmmakers who had been at loggerheads with the former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Chairperson Pahal Nihalani, can now heave a sigh of relief.

File image of Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

Not only Nihalani has been sacked from his position, their film has now been cleared by the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).

Six months ago, Nihalani had directed the filmmakers to obtain No objection Certificates (NoCs) from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit among others for using their actual footage in their documentary, An Insignificant Man.

While the two makers had argued that they had only used footage from the public domain for the purpose of documenting the rise of Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Nihalani refused to clear the film unless they agreed to abide by his rules.

Now, Deccan Herald reports that the FCAT has instructed the CBFC to clear An Insignificant Man with no cuts and a U/A certificate. The Tribunal dubbed the demand for NoCs from political personalities as sheer overstepping of authority by the CBFC.

The same report quotes the Tribunal as saying, "The producers of the documentary had quoted and reproduced/excerpts from speeches and/or taken from record events and information that is available in public domain. In these circumstances, requiring a film maker to obtain NoCs from the affected parties or characters in the film to whom references are made, was tantamount to CBFC abdicating its statutory functions. This is neither desirable nor permissible at law."

Pune Mirror reports that Shukla and Ranka welcomed the Tribunal's verdict with open arms but also expressed disappointment for facing hassles for six months for the sake of a basic legal clearance. The same report quotes Shukla as saying, "Had we given in to the Censor Board, it would have been a setback for other makers who wouldn’t have been able to name any living politicians or use public footage. There has been so much muddying of the waters by the former chairperson saying what he was doing was by the rule book when wasn’t that it was important to speak up. The FCAT has clearly said the CBFC was over-reaching its powers and could have threatened the future of documentary cinema."