[Reader-list] Online petition against censorship of Anand's film

Anjali Sagar starchild at anjalika.demon.co.uk
Sat Jun 29 17:30:21 IST 2002

Renowned Indian filmmaker Anand Patwardhan is
facing obstacles once again with the Indian Censor
Board, who are intent on preventing screenings
of his latest award-winning documentary
"War and Peace" in India.

Please sign an online petition in support of
filmmaker Anand Patwardhan:

Please remember to check the "Email Address Privacy
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More on the films of Anand Patwardhan at:

Excerpts from Press Statement, 14 June 2002

"War and Peace begins and ends with the ideas of
Mahatma Gandhi. Focusing on the danger of nuclear
war in the Indian subcontinent the video goes on
to describe the problems faced by people living
near nuclear testing and mining sites, the horror
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the culpability
of the USA in using Atom bombs on a nation that
was about to surrender, the globalization of the
arms trade, but most of all it derives its power
and emotional appeal from the growing movement for
peace both in India and in Pakistan. Unfortunately
in both countries there is an invisible force that
does not want peace, a force that has come to power
precisely by spreading divisiveness within the
country and the sustained threat of war outside it.
This force has cynically used concepts of religion
and patriotism to hide its own hate-corrupted
psyche and has sought to muzzle the voices of all
those who speak out for health, harmony and peace.

So it will not be enough to demand merely that
films like "War and Peace" be passed without cuts.
Officials of the Censor Board must be made to
understand that their brief cannot be to wield
their scissors in the interests of particular
ideologies. We must demand that the Censor Board
and all the vital institutions in our country be
freed from the undemocratic grip of "the invisible

Anand Patwardhan

Complete text at:

------------------TEXT OF PETITION----------------

To:  The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,


We, the undersigned, wish to bring to your notice
our deep concern about the plight of Anand
Patwardhan's award-winning documentary "War and Peace"
submitted over a month ago for certification to the
Censor Board. We urge you to take speedy measures to
release the film to the general public without any
further delay.

"War and Peace" is a three-hour long documentary that
has won several awards, including two major awards at
the recently concluded 7th Mumbai International Film
Festival, an event organized by the Films Division of
India (FDI), a governmental body that falls under
your purview.

The film's message of peace and religious tolerance
acts like a soothing balm in a world today that is
deeply fractured by the politics of hatred and
violence. In view of the horror in Gujarat and the
dangers of nuclear catastrophe, there is an urgent
need to build peace both within the country and

Given the enormous significance of the film in the
context, we are indeed astounded that the Censor
Board appears to be delaying the film's release
instead of taking all possible steps to expedite it
and arrange for its widest distribution.

While, according to official admission, the film has
not been banned, censor board officials have been
proactively stopping private screenings of "War and
Peace" even in such cases where prior permission was
obtained for the screening. For instance the FDI
obtained special permission from May 31st in Kolkata
to screen award winning films regardless of whether
these had censor certificates. The screening was
however blocked and the organizers, obviously under
pressure from above, insisted that a copy of the film
"hadn't arrived", even though a signed receipt
disproves their claim.

After the examining committee saw the film on June 6,
Patwardhan was not given a chance to meet the
examiners on the pretext that "there was no consensus"
in the group. The following week he was issued a notice
to cut many portions of the film. These include the diktat:
"Delete the entire sequence with visuals and dialogue
spoken by Dalit leader" and "Delete the visuals and
dialogues of entire tehelka episode wherever it occurs in
the film" and "Delete the entire visuals and dialogues
spoken by Political Leaders including the Minister
and Prime Minister."

These are astonishing demands that cut at the very
roots of democracy. Our right to freedom of expression
and our right to information are protected under the

We find these actions of the Censor Board to be
unbelievable and deeply disturbing. We urge you to take
immediate steps to arrange for the speedy release of the
film without cuts.



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email: info at ektaonline.org
website: http://www.ektaonline.org

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