[Reader-list] CPI-M turns film critic, kills festival

Shuddhabrata Sengupta shuddha at gmail.com
Wed Apr 30 05:30:22 IST 2008

Dear Prakash,

this is to return to the thread about the CPI-M turning film critic  
and killing a festival.

Thank you for your response to my forward of the piece in the Outlook.

Let me try and make myself clearer, I hope this will help understand  
my response to the piece published in the Outlook that you refer to.

1. I am no longer in a place in my political journey where I can be  
'offended' by the CPI-M's cultural politics. I am usually amused by  
it, and sometimes, saddened by it.

2. I find it interesting that a party that has no objection to  
censorship per se  (the censor board's existence) should nevertheless  
be willing to quibble over the fact that something that is not to its  
convenience has not been proscribed. I neither endorse nor support  
the existence of the censor board of the department of film  
festivals. I do not believe that government departments (any  
government departments, central, or state, have any business  
administering or running film festivals or censoring films) In fact I  
do not think that films should be censored. However, I fail to  
understand how an organization that sees no problem in the right of  
the censor board to censor, or of the DFF to hold film festivals, can  
object (retrospectively) to the screening of a film, and then perform  
the supremely irrational act of obstructing other, completely  
unrelated films from being shown, in a fit of pique, merely because  
it does not like one of the films on the programme. Its a bit like  
the behaviour of the spoilt rich kid on the street who owns the  
cricket bat and then runs away with the bat, when during playing  
cricket in the alley the umpire declares thim 'out', thereby ending  
the game.In other words, the game can be on, only as long as the rich  
kid with the bat is playing at the wicket, and only as long as the  
game is played by the spoilt rich kid's rules. I knew that Alimuddin  
Street was now being run by some spoilt brats, but I did not know  
quite how spoilt the brats were. Events like this give you a sense of  
quite how spoilt (and spoil-sportish) they are. If you agree to the  
umpire, you agree to his umpiring. You can protest a decision, but do  
you have the moral right to call off the rest of the game?

3. One can raise as many questions as one likes about centre state  
relationships. But I cannot see how raising a question about the  
federal structure of the Indian constitution requires one to prevent  
films from being shown. These two seem to me to be quite separate  
activities. After all, there are several anti-CPI (M) newspapers and  
magazines that are sold on Kolkata's footpaths. These have  
accreditations and registrations that are granted, no doubt by some  
government department at the centre ( I believe it is the PIB of the  
I&B ministry). Does this mean that the next time the CPI-M gets  
exercised on some centre-state relationship matter, it will endorse  
the banning of newspapers that happen to be cricital of it, merely  
because the newspaper in question was registered with some department  
in Delhi? If this is the case, then the times are even darker in  
Kolkata than I thought.

4. How exactly does one 'take care' of an article published in a  
magazine? Honestly, I have no clue about how to take care of other  
peoples publications.

5. Does an attack on the CPI-M automatically constitute an attack on  
the 'Left'? Does the CPI-M exhaust our understanding of the left?Does  
everyone on the 'Left' have to speak with one voice, and does that  
voice have to emanate only from the bowels of the CPI-M?

6. I did not post articles supporting the Centre on the Nuclear deal,  
because I do not support the centre's position on the nuclear deal.  
Nor do I support the CPI-M's position on the nuclear deal. There are  
more than two possible options here. And one does not have to be  
blackmailed into supporting one, merely because one does not endorse  
the other. On this position, at the risk of repetition, my position  
is very clear (and it has been made clear on this list before). If  
India voluntarily renounces the military nuclear option, there will  
be no nuclear deal worth its name. The CPI-M has never mentioned the  
vo. luntary, unilateral renunciation of the nuclear military option  
for India. it has merely endorsed the option of retaining the  
military nuclear option, outside the ambit of US hegemony. I neither  
support being within the ambit of US hegemony, nor the retention of a  
nuclear military option, outside the ambit of US hegemony. I endorse  
solely, and simply, the renunciation of nuclear weapons.

7. My attacks, are neither on the left, nor blind. And I have nothing  
against blind people. My attacks are on the CPI-M. As I said before,  
I fail to see how an attack on the CPI-M is an attack on a left wing  
position. Does a left wing position become one, simply because  
someone says so?

8. I did speak when filmmakers endorsed the boycott of the Kolkata  
Film Festival. I supported the boycott. Because I felt that the  
Government of West Bengal needed to be boycotted. In any case, the  
decision to not show films was taken by filmmakers themselves. And  
just as I object to filmmakers being prevented from showing their  
films, I also object to filmmakers being prevented from not showing  
their films. i think the  prerogative  of where, how, to whom and why  
one shows a work of art, say a film, belongs first of all, to the  
artist and to the filmmaker. Freedom of speech also means the right  
to remain silent, when necessary.

Hope you understand where I stand on this issue now.



On 27-Apr-08, at 2:11 AM, prakash ray wrote:

> Dear Sudhha,
> I am unable to understand your response to the report published in
> Outlook. Are you offended because the Nandan authorities objected to a
> film which is cleared by the "Censor Board" or the film was screened
> at IIFF, Goa? Do you believe that one should not raise questions
> related to Centre-State relationship? Do you think that the Nandan
> authorities have no right to ask the DFF the basis for the inclusion
> of a particular film? Do you think that every article published in
> Outlook on the Left should be taken care of? If yes, why you or Rahul
> did not posted articles supporting the Centre on the Nuclear Deal?
> As far as I know, you and Rahul and almost all the members of Vikalp
> and Sarai are quite critical to the censorship and the activities of
> DFF. I request you and others to see things in a perspective. I do not
> think that the blind attack against the Left is going to serve any
> purpose. Why did you or the writer of the article not speak when some
> filmmakers and artists boycotted the Kolkata Film Festival? Then also,
> the city was deprived of watching films because of such mindless
> opposition.
> Regards,
> Prakash K Ray
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Shuddhabrata Sengupta
The Sarai Programme at CSDS
Raqs Media Collective
shuddha at sarai.net

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