On Wednesday afternoon, scores of members of the Banjara community laid siege to the office of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) on Walkeshwar Road in Mumbai. The irate Banjaras landed at the CBFC’s doorstep to protest against Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s Marathi film Ajintha.
Ever since its release, the film has raised a hornet’s nest because if it’s provocative visuals pertaining to Buddhism. Now, the Banjara community wants the film’s censor certification to be revoked.
The Wednesday-afternoon, gherao by the Banjara community created a tricky situation since a large number of people from the community insisted on meeting the chairperson of the CBFC at the same time.
Says an eyewitness from the censor board, “Finally Pankaja Thakur, the Chief Executive Officer of the CBFC, agreed to meet a few of the Banjaras in her office in the presence of cops. However, 3 women and 7 men insisted on meeting Ms Thakur and pushed their way into her cabin. The woman turned out to be especially aggressive. They demanded that the film’s censor certificate be revoked since the film had done injustice to the Banjara community.”
Apparently, when Nitin Desai had shown the film to the Banjara community, the film’s female protagonist was named as member of the Banjara community. But when the film was submitted to the censor board, the term ‘Banjara’ was knocked off from the soundtrack and the female protagonist was referred to as a tribal.
Says the eyewitness at the meeting, “The Banjaras saw this omission as an insult to their community and demanded that the term ‘Banjara’ be restored in the movie with immediate effect. When Ms Pankaja Thakur said it wasn’t in her hands to restore what was clearly a creative decision of omission by the filmmaker, the women got aggressive and raised their voices saying as a woman Ms Thakur should empathize with their plot.”
According to the eyewitness there was a heated argument between the CBFC’s CEO and the Banjaras. “Ms Thakur sternly requested the Banjaras to not bring her gender into the discussion, as she represented the censor board in a gender-free capacity. She asked the Banjaras to submit a letter and leave. When they refused to do so, the cops who were in the room had to intervene.”
At this stage it isn’t clear how the CBFC intends to deal with this peculiar problem of a community’s objection to an omission that does not violate any guideline of censorship.
When contacted Pankaja Thakur confirmed the above story. Despite repeated attempts Nitin Chandrakant Desai remained unavailable for comment.