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Censors Stop "War and Peace"


The Hindu, Mumbai (India), Jun. 2, 2002

"War and Peace, the award-winning documentary film made by Anand Patwardhan has become an early casualty of the growing tension between India and Pakistan. For no stated reason, except that the film still awaits a censor certificate, the regional officer of the Censor Board has ensured that a screening of the film scheduled for today has been cancelled. War and Peace, a three-hour long documentary, focuses on the dangers of nuclear war in the subcontinent."
"According to Mr. Patwardhan, the manager of the Y.B. Chavan Centre, where the film was scheduled to be screened by a private trust, received a call from Mr. Singhala of the Censor Board on May 30 informing him that the film should not be screened. The trust had already obtained special permission from the police and the entertainment tax department for the screening."
"Mr. Patwardhan says he called the concerned officer and requested that the censor clearance be expedited as this had been pending from Apr. 15. He was informed that the censorship process took its own time. In addition, he was told that as the film had made references to the Tehelka arms scandal, and the matter was sub-judice, it could not be screened. Mr. Patwardhan points out that the Tehelka tapes are before a fact-finding commission, and are therefore not sub-judice. In any case, references to the tapes constitute only a few minutes of the three-hour-long documentary."
"Incidentally, War and Peace won two major awards at the Seventh Mumbai International Film Festival recently. The festival had been organised by the Films Division of India, which comes under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. It was shown to packed audiences during the festival and since then has been screened several times in Mumbai and in other parts of the country. It was also scheduled to open the Kolkata documentary film festival on May 31, jointly organised by the Films Division and the Nandan Film Society. As in Mumbai, in Kolkata too the film was not screened."
"The organisers first maintained that they did not have a copy of the film and later changed the story saying that the copy they had was not good enough. But Mr. Patwardhan says that when he informed the regional censor officer on May 30 that his film had been selected as the opening film for the Kolkata festival the next day, the officer reportedly said, 'Let us see how they show the film.' Mr. Patwardhan presumes that the organisers of the Kolkata festival received instructions from the top but have chosen not to reveal the real reason."
"In a statement issued today, Mr. Patwardhan says, 'I do not blame officials of the Films Division of anything more than wanting to protect their jobs. They were going to show War and Peace in all sincerity until rudely stopped by some invisible force. This invisible force has in the last 15 years taken our country to the abyss. I want this invisible force to come clean and reveal itself to public gaze. Let it openly declare that it does not believe in democracy, or in the values propagated by Mahatma Gandhi. These values of non-violence and religious tolerance are what War and Peace celebrates and hopes to rekindle in our psychologically and physically scarred region of the globe.' "
Related Links:
Anand Patwardhan's Films, By JOHN LAXMI, South Asian Journalists Association, Jun. 26 to Jul. 2, 2003
Indian Court Disallows Censorship of "War and Peace", By ANAND PATWARDHAN, South Asian Journalists Association, Apr. 24, 2003
C.P.J. Protests Censorship of Gujarat Documentary, By KAVITA MENON, Committee to Protect Journalists, Mar. 20, 2003