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CBFC denies certificate to documentary on Emergency

Filmmaker Yadu Vijayakrishnan's docu-fiction discloses the torture methods used during the Emergency in 1975-77. 

Our Correspondent

After the bitter battle over Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's S Durga, another film has run into trouble with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The regional office of the CBFC in Kerala has denied certification to Yadu Vijayakrishnan's docu-fiction narrative on the torture methods used by the police during the Emergency. The film, 21 Months Of Hell, uses real life accounts of victims and prisoners during the era to recreate the instances. 

According to a report in The Hindu, a daily, the board members cited 'disrespect' to the national flag and Mahatma Gandhi, and the 'fictional elements' as reasons for the denial of certificate. 

Director Vijayakrishnan was quoted in the report saying, "The scene where the Gandhi reference comes is of a protest where the agitators raise the slogan of ‘Bolo Gandhiji ki jai’. Policemen arrive on the scene to disperse the protesters, asking them to raise slogans for the Gandhi who is alive, rather than the one who is dead. In this scene, Gandhi is not portrayed negatively, the policeman who says that line is. In the same scene, a national flag falls on the ground from a protester’s hand, when he is beaten up. This is what the board members interpreted as disrespect." 

He added that the board members told him that they 'cannot take the risk of certifying this, as the documentary is political’. "The documentary is aimed at chronicling the torture methods, through interviews of the victims, and re-enactments of the torture. A board official asked me whether I had any ‘written government proof’ of these torture methods," Vijayakrishnan added. 

The film's trailer kicks off with a gathering of people shouting slogans to Mahatma Gandhi, when a police officer arrives ordering them to 'praise the living Gandhi, instead of the dead one'. The unmistakable reference is to that of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, who declared the Emergency in 1975. The trailer also features re-enactments of the torture sequences, which have led to objections by the board. 

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