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Shazia Iqbal wants to know why MAMI has dropped her short film Bebaak

The filmmaker has written an open letter to the festival asking why her film has been dropped, suspects that Anurag Kashyap being co-producer had something to do with it.

Mayur Lookhar

The MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, which is set to begin on 25 October, is already courting controversy.

Following allegations of sexual harassment against filmmaker Vikas Bahl, his former Phantom Films partner Anurag Kashyap had stepped down as a member of the board of the Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image.

Now, Shazia Iqbal, a young filmmaker and production designer, has written an open letter to MAMI asking why her short film Bebaak has been dropped from the festival.

Shazia Iqbal believes her film has been dropped because Kashyap is a co-producer. Bebaak was selected by MAMI's internal programming team three years ago.

Speaking to Cinestaan,com, Shazia said, “I was told about the film being dropped five days ago. While I wasn’t told the reason in so many words, it was sort of understood because before they told me the film had been canned, they had asked me to remove Anurag Kashyap’s name from the producers’ list.”

But Shazia was not in favour of dropping Kashyap’s name. “Anurag himself asked me to remove his name," she said. "But I wasn’t willing to, because I didn’t want my producer to be treated like an accused."

Bebaak is not the only film to be dropped from MAMI this year. Chintu Ka Birthday produced by the comedy group All India Bakchod (AIB) has also been dropped after allegations surfaced against AIB co-founders Gursimran Khamba and Utsav Chakraborty.

Shazia Iqbal revealed that a film produced by Vikramaditya Motwane, another former Phantom partner, and directed by Atul Mongia, and one by director Kanu Behl have also been dropped. 

“All these films were part of an anthology slate," she said. "I think MAMI just wants to play it safe. They announced the cancellation of AIB’s film Chintu Ka Birthday. They must have felt pressured to cancel every film that has controversy attached to it.”

Films being dropped from festivals after first being chosen is nothing new. Last year, Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Sexy Durga and Ravi Jadhav’s Nude were selected by the jury for the 48th International Film Festival of India before the Union information and broadcasting ministry decided to drop the films.

Sanal Kumar went to court but his film could not be screened as the Central Board of Film Certification cancelled its certification. The two films were eventually certified and released in the theatres.

Related topics

MAMI Sexual harassment