[Reader-list] How someone "well connected" got RIK screening Cancelled

Pawan Durani pawan.durani at gmail.com
Sun Aug 26 16:49:13 IST 2007

shuddha ,

You would find most of your answers in these link




Hope you go through it > I write in plain understandable English.....far
different than yours which is understood by your mirror.


Pawan Durani

On 8/26/07, shuddha at sarai.net <shuddha at sarai.net> wrote:
> Dear All,
> (from an 'urban indian intellectual', especially, but not only, to
> mystics living in rural Mars, rural Mars being a state of mind in the
> heart
> of metropolitan Delhi)
> A few days ago, a flurry of postings began, once again, on this list
> (and elsewhere) around screenings (or the prevention of screenings) of
> the film 'Jashn-e-Azadi', this time accompanied by reports that
> screenings of 'Jashn-e-Azadi' were being planned precisely in order to
> suppress and or supplant the screening of another film - ''And the World
> Remained Silent' by one Ashok Pandit.
> It was stated in one such posting (Rashneek Kher, quoting/forwarding
> Nishant Dudha on the 22nd of August, Sarai Reader List,'Liberals or
> Hypocrites by Nishant Dudha'>) that entities which the poster/writer
> defined as 'Urban Indian Intellectuals', who (according to the poster)
> 'proudly declare themselves liberal and claim themsleves to be the
> reason for the Indian nation state and everything that India stands
> for', are guilty of hypocrisy in supporting the freedom of one film to
> be exhibited, and suprressing the freedom of another to be shown.
> These are serious charges. And need to be addressed seriously. And I
> hope to contribute to a serious discussion of these charges through this
> and subsequent postings. Right now, I am going to discuss the
> implications of the fact that a group of citizens in Delhi have decided
> that they have the authority to tell the police to take steps to prevent
> a screening that is yet to take place because of their understanding
> that the screeing will violate the law, specifially the provisions of
> the Indian Cinematograph Act.
> We know this from Rashneek Kher's subsequent posting made on the Sarai
> Reader List on August 25 - <How someone "well connected" got RIK
> screening Cancelled> - where he writes -
> "...we went to the Police Station next to the venue where Sanjay Kak had
> manipulated his way into (sic). We filed a complaint and since Sanjay
> Kak is breaking the law of the land by screening a movie which does not
> have necessary censor certificate, the Police did the rest."
> I hope that you all notice the smugness of the expression, "the Police
> did the rest". Notice, also that the person (Rashneek Kher) who had
> earlier so piously stated that although he thought that 'Jashn-e-Azadi'
> was a film he thouroughly disapproved of, and that the public disruption
> of whose screenings was something he tacitly endorsed, he still did not
> agree (with Aditya Raj Koul) that it should be disallowed by police
> intervention in a posting made on this list on the 31st of July. See,
> his posting <Re:[Reader List]Police stops screening of Jashn-e-Azadi>
> (31/7/07).
> Within the space of less than a month, he (Rashneek Kher) has gone from
> quoting Voltaire to defend the freedom of those he disagrees with to
> proudly narrating to us all as to how he and others (the 'we' of his
> posting) went and complained to the police in Delhi to stop a screening.
> These gentlemen believe that the law (like the consistency of their own
> position vis-a-vis free speech) is in their pocket, and that they can
> make it dance to any tune they sing, and make it do whatever they will.
> We will get to precisely what the law does or does not say later.But for
> now, I cannot but express my awe and admiration for their supreme self
> confidence. Perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a grandiose and
> self righteous arrogance. Does it not stem from a tacit understanding
> that some deeper structures of power stand close to them, encouraging
> them, perhaps even guiding them, as they play at being cultural keystone
> cops?
> I live in the city of Delhi, hold an Indian passport and make my living
> by working with images, ideas, words and information. I suppose that
> makes me  an 'urban Indian intellectual', at least according to the
> vocabulary of the above mentioned postings, which could be made just as
> probably (or not) by the mystic denizens of rural mars, since their
> disdain for 'urban, indian, intellectuals' seems to indicate that they
> must be something else altogether. I hope to be corrected, and to be
> made to realize that the authors of these postings are just as urban
> (should I say urbane), much more Indian, and definitely just as, if not
> more inventive in their intellectual capacities than I and others who
> stand accused by them are.
> However, lets get some things clear about what I am not. I am neither a
> liberal, (in that I do not subscribe to a classical liberal definition
> of politics, or to a liberal endorsement of, or advocacy of state power)
> nor can I in my wildest imagination claim that I represent the 'reason
> of the Indian nation state'. I would hope that by now it is more than
> amply clear to the readership of this list that I represent something
> quite to the contrary to the reasons of any state present, past or
> future. I say this, not to score some cheap debating point but to
> introduce into this discussion a question about whether or not you can
> automatically make a lot of assumptions about the politics and practices
> of someone you happen to put a label on. Perhaps, in a debate it would
> be wiser to pay closer attention to what people actually say or have
> said in the past, rather than to leap to conclusions and judgements
> unwarranted by the public record, especially on a publicly avaiable,
> carefully archived list. Whover does so, runs the risk of having
> themselves exposed as charlatans. I suppose that possibility does not
> overly worry Rashneek Kher and his cohort.
> However, since, those of us who, to whatever extent, due to the
> accidents of geography, history, practice and circumstances, fit the
> taxonomic straightjacket of the phrase 'urban Indian intellectual' have
> been asked to account for our 'hypocrisy' with such touching sincerity,
> on this list, I thought I would provoke this discussion further by
> asking a few questions of my own about the methods and motives of those
> who have made these postings.
> They have in fact done a great deal more than making mere postings. They
> have gone to such great lengths as writing complaints addressed to the
> SHO of the Hauz Khas Police Station demanding that a screening of
> 'Jashn-e-Azadi' at Kamla Nehru College be prevented on the grounds that
> the said film did not carry a certificate from the Central Board of Film
> Certification. Hence, it was held in the complaint that the screening of
> the film would constitute an offence under the Cinematograph Act.
> I will address their motives and justifications for doing so, separately,
> in another posting.
> We might recall, that the screening of the same film in Mumbai, at
> Bhupesh Gupta Bhavan, was stopped on the same grounds. So there is a
> pattern here. Be it Delhi, or Mumbai, a small, tight, highly organized
> and motivated circle of individuals is at work, perhaps under higher
> direction, perhaps not, following and harassing a film and a filmmaker.
> They are using everything they can, the law (or their twisted
> understanding of it), hystrionics, innuendo, and as I hope to show
> subsequently, slander. Right now, we will stick to their reading of the
> law. Because their reading of the law has serious implications for our
> understanding of culture and cultural practice in our milieu.
> How do these gentlemen invoke the law? How, in fact, do you, in India
> today, harass a filmmaker and prevent a film from being screened, if he
> (the filmmaker) refuses, especially on grounds of principle, (because of
> his opposition to censorship) from adorning his work with a piece of
> paper from the Central Board of Film Certification that deems it worthy
> of 'public exhibition' to Indian citizens? You call in the police and
> invoke the Cinematograph Act. You hope that the police 'does the rest'
> for you. You become loyal whistleblowers, the good guys, who with such
> consideration and care protect the rest of us from having to watch
> something that has not been duly certified by the Central Board of Fim
> Certification.
> This means we need to undertake a careful examination of how the
> Cinematograph Act actually defines the issues of film exhibition, and
> how it defines, or does not define a public for the purpose of film
> exhibition.
> Remember, here we are talking about a film and its public, so no appeals
> to the definition of public with regard to other forms, say, acts that
> pertain to 'Dramatic Performances', or the readership of a book, will
> suffice, because they are irrelevant in this instance. Since the
> gentlemen have invoked the law, and that too a specific law in their
> complaint, we have to stick for the moment to what constitutes a legal
> definition of a 'cinematic public'in India today.
> [Note: For the moment, I am not arguing in detail as to whether the
> cinematograph act, and the apparatus of film censorship, or almost all
> forms of censorship per se are desirable or not. I think they are not,
> and I think it is a shame that we are still straddled with this totally
> useless and insulting piece of legislation that mocks the intelligences
> and sensibilities of adult men and women and treats them as infants or
> imbeciles or both. I think that the censorship system, and the
> cinematograph act should be scrapped. My views on this account are well
> known by now, on this list, as well as elsewhere. But that is not the
> issue here.]
> So, for the moment, let us stick to the issue at stake. Does a screening
> of a film, of any film, in any educational institution, say a college,
> qualify as being an act that requires a filmmaker to produce a
> certifiate from the CBFC. Does the gathering that collects for such a
> screening, in such a setting (of an educational institution, or in a
> space that lets people in by a non commercial invitation) qualify as
> being a 'public' as per the provisions of the relevant law? Does a
> filmmaker, or anyone else, who shows such a film commit an offence under
> the cinematograph act?
> If it does, then appeals to the police to prevent a screening have a
> basis in law (even if we disagree with that law substantively) If they
> do not, then they are only instances of arm-twisting of the worst kind.
> I want to know how to read the motives that make a group of individuals
> sit up and go straight to the police in order to deal with a film. How
> in other words, can we read the unfolding text of the police school of
> film criticism?
> The Cinematograph Act merely says that any  public exhibition of a film
> requires a certificate that has to be granted by a licensed authority
> (board of certification) . It does not tell us what constitutes a public
> place, nor does it define a public. Is a gathering of friends in a
> residence a public gathering, is a class room a public place, is a club
> a public space? On all these issues, the cinematograph act itself is
> silent.
> So how do we know what is a public space? Is every gathering of people a
> public?  What, legally, constitutes a 'public' insofar as the exhibition
> of any film is concerned?
> I had a telephonic conversation with Lawrence Liang at the Alternative
> Law Forum in Bangalore yesterday about how one might read and understand
> the word 'public' (esecially in the face of the absence of any
> qualifiers or definitions in the Cinematograph Act). Here is a gist of
> what he said -
> <There are only two sources in Indian law that seek to define the
> 'cinematic public' - one comes from taxation law, from entertainment tax
> regulations, and the other, from our old friend, the Copyright Act.
> Let us deal with each in turn,
> The 'Public' for a film,  for entertainment tax purposes, is any
> gathering of people who have been brought together to see, hear, or
> otherwise enjoy a film, were, the purpose of the exhibition is the
> commercial gain of the exhibitor. This is an idea of the public linked
> to a notion of it as a 'purchaser' of the commodity which is the
> exhibition of the film. If tickets are sold, or even, lets say, if the
> person or persons who arrange for a screening stand to gain in pecuniary
> terms because they also sell space for 'advertisements' at the screening
> venue, we could, then, talk about a 'cinema/film public'
> A screening in a college or educational or research institution does not
> qualify as a 'public gathering' on this account. So this one is easy to
> deal with.
> Now comes the definition of the term public, which is broader, in the
> copyright act. The question is, is it broad enough to merit police
> intervention in this case?
> The copyright act too, does not tell us what a public is directly, but
> it tells us what 'communication to the public' means with regard to a
> film, or any other work that may be reproduced, by saying -
> "Communication to the Public means, making any work available to been
> seen or heard or otherwise enjoyed by the public directly...regardless
> of whether any member of the public sees, hears or otherwise enjoys the
> work so made available."
> The suggestion as to what constitutes a 'public' lies in the second half
> of this quotation. What does the law mean when it says that 'the act of
> communication to the public' can be said to occur 'regardless of whether
> or not any member of the public sees, hears or enjoys the said work'. It
> means that the test of publicness lie in the protocol of entry and
> invitation to that space. A space is a public space, even if no public
> enters it, as long as theoretically, any member of a public could enter
> such a space. As far as the law is concerned, publicness is an attribute
> of possibility, contingency and the protocols of entry and presence, not
> of the number and accumulation of persons in a given space. This is
> clear from the fact that the law defines a space as public even if no
> one were present. There can be a legal 'public' of many, of two, of one,
> or
> of none.
> Consequently, publicness can be defined as a gathering, or the
> possibility of a gathering that takes place in such a space. And here
> the fact of possibility has a greater weightage than the fact of actual
> presence.
> If a space allows entry to its pretincts by invitation, or disallows a
> body of people, it cannot be deemed a public space. Hence a gathering
> that collects in such a space is not a public. At least not in the eyes
> of the laws that regulate access to audio-visual culture.
> <END of gist of my conversation with Lawrence Liang>
> You might say that this is a tautology. I do not disagree, but it is not
> I, or Lawrence Liang that framed the terms of this tautology, the
> lawmakers who wrote it into the law did. So neither I, nor Lawrence
> Liang can be held responsible for the twisted contours of its reasoning.
> And as far as I am concerned, we do not ordinarily seek to prosecute or
> not to prosecute on the basis of whether or not a law is tautological.
> At least I have not heard of any cases where the police or public
> prosecutors refuse to arrest or press charges only because a law is
> tautological. The forces of law and order are not known for their taste
> in philosophical niceties and nuances.
> I am also not interested in debating here the many varieties of common
> or common sense understandings of the word 'public' - to which there can
> no doubt, be many shades. Since we are discussing a matter where the law
> has been explicitly invoked, (as in a group of citizens have made a
> complaint to the police about the violation of a specific law) we have
> to restrict our discussion to the strictly legal reading of the term
> public. If they had not gone to the police, we could have had a
> discussion on their understanding of publicness as being one among many
> understandings, but once they have gone to the law, they have closed the
> door to any appeals to common, consensual or commonplace understandings.
> But we digress, lets get back to the legal definition of what the public
> means in the context of the exhibition of a film. This means, the test
> of whether a gathering constitutes a public stems from the terms on
> which people enter that space. A space that anyone might enter,either
> freely, or on purchase of a ticket, such as a railway station, a park, a
> commercial cinema hall, a gallery, or a public library, are indeed
> public spaces.
> However, other spaces, such as clubs, libraries that restrict entry to
> non-members, or educational institutions such as colleges, (that
> restrict entry to all other than students, faculty, staff and invited
> guests) are in fact not public spaces. The audience for a screening of a
> film in a commercial cinema, an open space - say a park, a public
> library and an educational institution would each be instances of
> different kinds of gatherings, some of which would be public, and others
> would not.
> This, by the way, is exactly the kind of test we need to undertake
> before we jump to conclusions as to whether or not a moderated blog, or
> the act of moderation on a moderated blog, is an instance of censorship.
> If the terms of the blog are that it is moderated, then everyone knows
> that this is so.  Or can know that this is so. Similarly, when an
> invitation is made by the editors of a book, everyone knows that there
> are editors, and that there will be edited content. Editing or
> moderation in such instances cannot amount to censorship because they
> are being undertaken by the authors and custodians of the works
> themselves. There is a tacit assumption on the part of the editors or
> authors of a work that their audinence, or readership, let's them be the
> primary shapers of its contents. They can be respondents, elsewhere, if
> the space of response is closed, but they cannot claim automatic entry
> into the control of authorship of the space created in and around the
> body of the work.
> This is the compact on which much of the transaction of culture is
> based. There are other more open models for cultural transaction, but an
> effort to ritualize a normative hierarchy between a variety of models is
> completely pointless as the first model does not seek to supplant or
> stamp out the latter. They can, and do, coexist, as is excellently
> demonstrated by the fact of the coexistence of this open, unmoderated
> list, with other moderated fora. (I hope here that Arnab Chatterjee
> recognizes, that once again, I am addressing his questions here). There
> is a difference, for those of you who are inclinded to these matters,
> between the act of inscription that a 'reader' brings to a text, and an
> attempt to efface the text through calumny.
> If however, all content, no matter for whom, or to be published wherever,
> had to pass through an official body for approval or rejection, separate
> from and standing above, authors, custodians, moderators and editors, then
> of course there would be censorship.
> An edited book, a moderated blog or mailing list, an educational space
> or a screening in an educational institution, a party in someone's house
> - none of these are public spaces.
> An unmoderated list, such as this one, is a public space, which is why
> we have robustly resisted screening out any public messages by subscribed
> members on this list. Our commitment to keeping a public space publcly
> open
> does not stand in variance to our equally strong commitment to safeguard
> spaces and acts of enquiry, exchange and reflection that we feel need to
> be
> protected from general public scrutiny and/or interference. Which is why,
> for instance, the Sarai Readers are not 'un-edited' publications. In fact,
> a commitment to publicness and a commitment to privacy are both guarantors
> of liberty and act as necessary and complementary influences on what
> happens across private and public domains.
> A screening of a film in a public park (one that does not debar entry),
> or in a commercial cinema theatre is a screening in a public space, to
> which anyone, (or anyone who has bought a ticket) has automatic right of
> entry. Corrolarily, the custodians of an educational institution, their
> students and faculty have every authority, to decide when to show a film,
> which film to show, which film not to show, and when to show or not show a
> film, and whom to invite for their screenings. And none of these actions
> constitute censorship, becasue they are not public spaces that deal with
> constituted publics. Their decisions do not affect the freedom of those
> who
> are not part of these spaces to see or not see or show anything elsewhere.
> If I decide to see a particular film at home, or not see a particular
> film,
> it has no bearing whatsoever on the right of that film to be seen
> elsewhere
> and by other people.
> By definition, entry to an educational institution, such as Kamla Nehru
> College, is barred to all but students, staff, faculty, and invited
> guests who are invited because their presence is in some way related to
> the curricular or extra-curricular activities of the institution. A
> college is not a public space. A gathering in a college to watch a film
> - an activity that takes place within the protected space of what is
> educational for the students - is not a public screening.
> In fact, even the machinery of the state recognizes this distinction.
> And if you look hard enough for it, you do find it. In other words,
> before you run to the police station the next time, try and spend some
> hours in a library, or at least, google. You will fall less harder on
> your self-assured faces.
> There are at least two documents that demonstrate that section 10 of the
> Cinematograph Act (1952)-  precisely the one that states explicitly that
> no person shall exhibit any film in any place 'elsewhere than in a place
> licensed under the act'- are not applicable to educational institutions.
> These are as follows;
> 1. Report on the Progress of Audio Visual Education for the Year 1956-57
> of the Ministry of Education, Government of India (Which I will call the
> '56-57' Report)
> and
> 2. Minutes of the 26th Meeting of the Central Advisory Board of
> Education, Government of India, 1959 (which I will call the '59' Minutes)
> Both of these documents indicate that several states (remember, both
> censorship and education are 'state and/or concurrent subjects') had
> issued a directive (a hitherto unchallenged directive, to the best of my
> knowledge) that explicitly states that -
> "The State Governments of Orissa, Madras, Mysore, Punjab, Bombay,,
> Bihar, Kerala and U. P. have exempted all recognised educational
> institutions from the operation of the Section '10' of the Cinematograph
> Act, 1952," ('56-57' Report)
> see - http://education.nic.in/cd50years/g/12/24/12240801.htm
> and that -
> "The following States have exempted the schools from the operation of
> Section 10 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952: Andhra, Madhya Pradesh,
> Punjab, Bihar, Bombay, Kerala, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa, Madras, Mysore,
> Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, and Rajasthan.The matter is still under
> consideration of the State Government of West Bengal."('59' Minutes)
> see - http://education.nic.in/cd50years/g/12/23/12230108.htm
> Give that these dates are prior to the linguistic organization of
> states, they apply practically to the entire country. Successive
> 'states' have simply 'inherited' legislation on these matters from their
> 'precursor' states, with Delhi having inherited legislation pertaining
> to education and entertainmnent from Punjab. So this is clearly the case
> in Delhi, and in Mumbai - Educational institutions are exempt from
> section 10 of the cinematograph act (1952). And any effort to make them
> part of the regime of the cinematograph act is actually in contradiction
> of the law as it stands today. If any change in this structure has
> occurred, of which I am unaware, then we have to ask why and how such a
> draconian overwriting of an enlightened exemption could pass unnoticed.
> But, as far as I am aware, there has been no change in the stipulation
> that educational institutions be made exempt from section 10 of the
> Cinematograph Act. (Why would the documents that assert that is the case
> be on on the department of education's public website on an official
> nic.in server if they were no longer in force ?)
> In other words, any attempt to derail such an activity in an educational
> institution, by inviting the police to intervene, has no sanction in the
> letter of the Cinematograph Act, or in any law. It can and must only be
> seen as thuggish intimidation by a group of highly motivated
> individuals. It is entirely upto the facutly, students and
> administration of the educational institution concerned to decide
> between themselves what they will or will not allow to be seen and shown
> on their premises. Neither the police, nor the censor board, nor any
> busybodies with their motivated agendas have any business interfering in
> the life of an eduacational institution. Those who complain to the
> police, and the policemen responsible for acting on that complaint both
> violate the sanctity and freedom of an educational space, the rights of
> students and faculty to watch and discuss a film, and act in gross error
> with regard to the very law that they seek to implement.
> I hope that a reasoned and informed discussion, and not the trading of
> motivated charges, will help us in clearing the ground as to where
> exactly the burden of hypocrisy lies in this case.
> To be continued,
> Shuddha
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