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CBFC stalls release of Kamal Swaroop's Pushkar Puran

The documentary's executive producer, and Swaroop's son, Kashyap on Facebook wrote about the baffling conditions the Central Board of Film Certification has presented before the filmmaker.

Sonal Pandya

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has stalled the release of Kamal Swaroop's documentary, Pushkar Puran, which premiered at the Montreal Film Festival in September 2017, demanding the producers to provide proof of authenticity for the film's content. The film already has an 'A' certificate.

Kashyap Swaroop, the film's executive producer and Kamal's son, tweeted about the baffling conditions put forth by the CBFC in a Facebook post, with a header that said, 'Rage Against The Censor Machine'. The documentary was filmed last November at the Pushkar cattle fair in Rajasthan.

Detailing Kamal's previous troubles at the CBFC on his 2015 documentary The Battle For Banaras, Kashyap went on to share why the CBFC asked for proof of authenticity and a No Objection Certificate from the Animal Welfare Bureau of India for showing animals in Pushkar Puran.

Kashyap addressed both claims, asking, "Why must a Certification Board, which has already offered us only an 'A' certificate, monitor the nature of the content? Why must they police us on whether the content in the film is up to their mark, Mythologically or Historically? We've categorically stated that the film is of a Mythological nature, often creating its own myths through the words of the people of Pushkar. How can a certification board challenge the veracity or morality of a subjective art like cinema? Is this not muffling free speech?"

He went on to show screenshots of an email by the Animal Welfare Bureau of India (AWBI) that stated, "The scenes containing in the link sent by you consists of natural scenes of animals for which NOC is not required from AWBI."

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Because of this holdup, the team will miss out on their application deadline for the National Awards (which requires approval from the CBFC again) and Kashyap ended his post summing up his frustrations for the whole process.

"With little to no effort, zero qualifications and barely any understanding of cinema, mythology or the human condition, the CBFC has denied us a chance to be considered for India's highest cinema award. They have defeated our spirit of enterprise and squashed our urge to explore stories that haven't been told. Bear in mind, we paid the CBFC Rs19,000 for this nightmare. Dad has been waiting in their office for up to 5 hours every day, for several days in a row, just to speak to their clerk at the end of the wait. The higher-ups don't take calls or address our concerns. The CBFC is an outdated relic. My filmmaker friends from the global film community laugh at the pitiable state of Indian cinematic expression. Can't say we're laughing, though," he wrote.

Pushkar Puran was also shown at Mumbai Film Festival and later as part of the Indian Panorama section at the 48th International Film Festival of India in November 2017.