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This is contempt of court: Actor Kannan Nayar on IFFI not scheduling S Durga


Lead actress Rajshri Deshpande revealed that she’s been receiving death threats in the past year.

Kannan Nayar (left), Rajshri Deshpande (right) Source: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

It’s been 48 hours since the Kerala High Court overruled the decision of the information & broadcasting ministry to remove Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s S Durga from the Indian Panaroma section at the 48th International Film Festival of India, being held in Goa. However, here at the festival there is no word yet on when the film would be screened.

We caught up with S Durga’s lead actress Rajshri Deshpande and her fellow actor Kannan Nayar, who have expressed dismay at not receiving any information from IFFI officials at the festival.

Speaking to Cinestaan.com, Nayar who had to apply as a delegate to be at the festival, said, “We haven’t heard anything from the officials as yet. They are simply not saying anything when he (Sanal) asked them about when our film would be screened. They are just not ready to communicate with us. We have the court order (in our favour) but they are not responding to it. They haven’t scheduled our film yet. We don’t know what do to?”

When asked whether he’s had a word with the festival director Sunil Tandon, Nayar replied,” I did speak to him, but he merely said that he’s not the right person to comment on this. We didn’t get any response when we asked him who the right person is. Earlier, we went to I&B ministry’s office in New Delhi, they said all the concerned persons are in Goa. Out here we are told to address our concerns in New Delhi. Where do we go then? I think it is a clear case of contempt of court. Perhaps these people think they are above the court,”

In the case of S Durga, the bone of contention for the government is that film’s earlier title was Sexy Durga. Durga is also a name of a Hindu goddess. “If you are just hurt by the word sexy, then how feeble your religion is?," questioned Nayar before adding, “We altered the title to S Durga as Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had censored the word 'sexy'. They didn’t chop a single scene from our film. Now the 'S' can be interpreted as anything. It can be Saint Durga, save Durga, it can be sexy Durga too.”

The unceremonious removal of the film from IFFI is puzzling as the CBFC had certified the film after the makers dropped the word sexy from the title. Once a film is certified by the censor board why should there be an opposition to it being at a film festival?

“That is the whole point. If I&B ministry is going to take the final call, then why should you have a CBFC?,” Nayar quizzed.

Lead actress Rajshri Deshpande arrived in Goa last evening and obtained a day pass to enter the festival. It’s not the first time that Deshpande has been part of a film which courted controversy for its title. She had played Laxmi in the critically acclaimed Angry Indian Goddesses (2015) by director Pan Nalin.

“Last time I was asked why your goddess is angry. Now I’m being asked why your goddess is sexy?," said Deshpande with a bewildered look. “My answer to them is my goddess is everything. She’s angry, she’s sexy, and she’s beautifully strong.”

Currently, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati (which is based on the legendary queen Padmini) is the other film mired in controversy with certain Rajput fringe groups and political parties, creating havoc and causing the film to be delayed. However, unlike Padmavati, S Durga hasn’t really seen the wild protests. 

“Well, I have been receiving death threats since last year. I have even filed a First Information Report (FIR), but who knows about it.  I didn’t go to the media and had merely posted on Facebook but nobody wrote about it,” Deshpande said.

The S Durga actress also narrated a horrific experience with a journalist. She stated, ”I’m not the first woman to face such threats. There have been many before, but no one is there to support them. One journalist replied to me saying that’s because Deepika Padukone is a national treasure. I asked gently, don’t you think every woman is a national treasure? Every human being is a national treasure. I have huge respect for Deepika Padukone, but please support all Deepikas who are facing such problems.”

There are always fringe groups who create a nuisance for publicity, but what about those whose sentiments are genuinely hurt with their goddess being called sexy?

“I respect religious sentiments, but my sincere request to them is please watch the film once. We have Kamasutras, we have seen our mythologies which talk about sexuality. We are now afraid to talk about it on screen. Suddenly, you feel Padmavati dancing is offending,” Deshpande concluded.

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