Kashish Mumbai International queer film fest hosted a panel discussion today at Liberty cinema. The topic of the discussion was Freedom of Expression & Censorship in Indian cinema. The panelists included eminent personalities like Nandita Das, Onir, Apurva Asrani and Sridhar Rangayan. Meenakshi Shedde was the moderator for the discussion.
Indian cinema in 2013 celebrated a centenary of films, but issues of censorship & barriers in freedom of expression continue to dog the industry. The problems become more immediate for films that challenge social norms, question traditional practices or rock the status quo. While on one hand, the censor board is still mired in antiquated rules and places hurdles on films that deal with contentious issues, on the other hand distribution & marketing machinery questions the judiciousness in investing in such films. Do these hamper artistic freedom and where does one draw the line for artistic license? How do filmmakers, actors, producers and distributors navigate this complex terrain to ensure that films on challenging social issue are enabled to be made within the mainstream system? A panel of eminent filmmakers, actors, and a media critic discuss whether there is light at the end of the tunnel.
APURVA ASRANI is a National Award winning film maker, film editor and screenwriter based in Mumbai, India. He has a multimedia body of work in film, television and theatre and is best known for editing films like Satya (1998), Shahid (
2013) and City Lights (2014). He has also written the script of Hansal Mehta’s highly lauded Aligarh, about a real-life professor who was humiliated and sacked for being homosexual. Apurva won the Filmfare Award for Best Editing for Satya at the Filmfare Awards held in 1999. In 2001, Apurva shared the National Film Award for Best Editing with Suresh Pai, for their edit of Snip!, a bilingual comedy directed by Sunhil Sippy. He was also nominated for a Zee Cine Award for his edit of Hansal Mehta's Chhal in 2001. For the film Shahid, Apurva was awarded 'Best Screenplay' at the Life Ok Screen Awards in 2014 & the award was shared with Hansal Mehta.
NANDITA DAS has acted in more than 40 feature films in 10 different languages. She made her directorial debut with Firaaq in 2008 which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival. Between the Lines marks her debut as a playwright and theater director. Nandita was on the jury of Cannes Film Festival twice (2005 and 2013), among others. She is a strong advocate for issues of social justice and human rights. She was the Chairperson of Children’s Film Society between 2009 and 2012. Nandita Das was the first Indian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum. She has also been conferred the ‘Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters’ by the French Government. She was selected as a World Fellow in 2014 at the Yale University.
ONIR is an Indian film director, editor, screenwriter and producer. He is best known for his film My Brother…Nikhil, based on the life of Dominic d'Souza and one of the first mainstream Hindi films to deal with AIDS and same-sex relationships. He won the National Award for his film socially relevant and poignant film, I AM (2011).
SRIDHAR RANGAYAN is an Indian filmmaker and gay activist who has made films with special focus on queer subjects. His queer films, The Pink Mirror and Yours Emotionally, have been considered groundbreaking because of their realistic and sympathetic portrayal of the largely closeted Indian gay community. He is the Festival Director of Kashish Mumbai Queer Film Festival that is in its 7th edition this year. Sridhar has been selected by a worldwide nomination to be part of British Council’s first fiveFilms4freedom Global List of 33 inspiring people who are changing social perceptions about LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) communities throughout the world. His documentary film Breaking Free that highlights the impact and implications of Sec 377 on the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community won the National Award for Best Editing at the 63rd National Awards.