Kerala's Udta Punjab? Malayalam film 'Kathakali' faces clash with CBFC over cuts

The little known debutant director Saijo Kannanaikkal’s film Kathakali has been refused a certificate by the Regional office of CBFC in Thiruvananthapuram.

Sreedhar Pillai June 21, 2016 17:45:39 IST
Kerala's Udta Punjab? Malayalam film 'Kathakali' faces clash with CBFC over cuts

The raging controversy over Anurag Kashyap's production Udta Punjab, and its epic battle with the Censor Board for Film Certification (CBFC), created headlines for days.

The film finally released thanks to the intervention of the Bombay High Court, which ruled in its favour regarding the cuts and censor certificate. The controversies surrounding the film helped it at the box-office where it took a flying opening garnering nearly Rs 33 Crores in its opening weekend.

Now taking a leaf out of the landmark judgement, a filmmaker from Kerala is trying to cash in on it. The little known debutant director Saijo Kannanaikkal’s film Kathakali has been refused a certificate by the Regional office of CBFC in Thiruvananthapuram. The officials who saw the two hour film, on the life and times of a Kathakali artist, asked for three cuts and muting of cuss words.

Keralas Udta Punjab Malayalam film Kathakali faces clash with CBFC over cuts

Poster of the film. Image from Facebook.

Saijo told the media, “CBFC wants the removal of a scene in which the protagonist, Dasan, is undressed and beaten up and another towards the end in which Dasan removes the Kathakali attire and walks naked towards the Bharathapuzha river. It also wants the cuss words removed. The climax scene that they want to cut is the soul of my film.”

In a fit of rage Saijo approached the powerful Film Employees’ Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), a body of Malayalam film directors and technicians, which staged a dharna in front of CBFC’s regional office. FEFKA general secretary B Unnikrishnan is quoted as saying: “The CBFC is indulging in politics and behaving as though we have committed a big sin. We have decided to move the Kerala High Court against the board’s decision.”

It is obvious that FEFKA has taken courage from the Bombay High Court landmark judgement that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has no power to censor movies. Malayalam film directors and producers have been undergoing a long drawn out battle with the Thiruvananthapuram censors. And they feel that they can use the Bombay High Court judgement to clip the wings of CBFC.

Meanwhile CBFC regional officer in Thiruvananthapuram Dr A Prathibha told Firstpost: “It is nothing but a publicity stunt created by the Kathakali team. There is an existing legal framework within the CBFC regarding the censoring of a film. The director has not even given us a letter that he is unhappy with the cuts and then applied to go to Revising Committee, instead he has gone straight to the media and then to the court. I do not want to comment further on the matter”.

The buzz is that the court will surely reject the director’s appeal as he has not taken the correct method within the framework. It is important to not here that Udta Punjab had gone to court only after the RC rejected their appeal for censor certificate.

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