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Published in the 1-15 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Film on Gujarat violence banned

Mumbai: The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) on 5 August refused to pass Rakesh Sharma's award-winning film on the Gujarat violence. Final Solution, the three-and-a-half hour documentary, was rejected by the Board on the grounds that it "promotes communal disharmony among Hindu and Muslim groups and presents the picture of Gujarat riots in a way that it may arouse communal feelings and clashes among Hindu Muslim groups."

The letter from the CBFC said that the film "attacks the basic concept of our Republic i.e., national integrity and unity, certain dialogues involve defamation of individuals or body of individuals, entire picturisation is highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence, state security is jeopardised and public order is endangered if this film is shown.... The letter added that, “When it is judged in its entirety from the point of view of its overall impact, it is not advisable to be exhibited. Hence refused under Section 5(b) 1 of the Cinematograph Act,1952."

Commenting on the ban, Sharma said: "There is no shock or surprise at this decision. I thought they would be more clever in the way they rejected it."
According to him the Board had ‘violated' many censorship rules, including time limit and procedural matters. He said he planned to explore legal remedies as "I don't expect a free and fair hearing from within the CBFC." he said.

Since it was released in February this year, the film has been shown at a number of international film festivals and has won several awards including the Wolfgang Staudte award at the Berlin International film festival, the Humanitarian Award for Outstanding Documentary at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the Silver Dhow at the Zanzibar Film Festival. The film is due for commercial release in Germany next month.

The Regional Officer at the CBFC in Mumbai, V. K. Singla, suggested that Mr. Sharma had many levels of appeal within the Censor Board, which he can use. "Rules are rules," he said and films have to go through the process of certification before being screened in public. A committee of four people, including a Muslim gentleman, viewed Rakesh Sharma's film. Mr. Sharma complained that the Board saw his film on a day when he was not available to answer questions by the screening committee. 

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