“It is like a Mariana trench, too much work to try and understand why Mr Pahlaj Nihalani is doing what he is doing,” said Imtiaz Ali at the press meet post the screening of an uncensored version of ‘Shor Se Shuruaat’, a collection of seven progressive short films mentored by illustrious filmmakers like Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar, Sriram Raghavan, Mira Nair, Shyam Benegal, Nagesh Kukkonoor and Homi Adajania. A censored version of the film is releasing tomorrow in six cities in India. Imtiaz was asked about double standards practised by CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani on giving a UA certificate to Befikre with multiple profuse kissing scenes and even a butt naked scene of Ranveer Singh. Imtiaz didn’t react to the partiality towards Yash Raj Films but he was obviously upset with rampant censorship that restricts the free expression of a film director.
Out of the seven short films in ‘Shor Se Shuruaat’, two shorts caught my attention for their telling comment on thwarting of a voice that Protests (Rahul V Chittella’s ‘Azaad’ presented by Mira Nair). ‘Azaad’ is played by Atul Kulkarni a writer who wants to show the ‘true face’ of the society and how he is harassed for the same. The end credit of the short pays a tribute to all the writers who have been killed, the obvious reference being the much discussed writer Kalburgi’s murder. The second short shows how salesmen are shoving their mobile sim cards down the throats of unwilling customers with multiple benefits including the camouflaged cash back offer (Patik Rajen Kothari’s ‘Hello Hello’ mentored by Shyam Benegal). One of the sim cards is called as ‘Saffron Mobile’ and the slant is towards taking a dig at the Saffron politics. I told Imtiaz and Sriram Raghavan that in today’s times when filmmakers are coerced and censored by shrill voices in cacophonous news rooms, when hue and cry is made on anything and everything that film personalities do, it is a welcome change to watch these two short films that actually manage to say what they want to say.
“I know what you’re saying Faridoon. In cinema you can even disguise things. Cinema can not be coming out of a position of fear. It cannot. There are all kinds of forces that come and go but it is important for filmmakers, especially young filmmakers to be clear about what they want to say and say it in the way that they can and in the way that it affects people in a positive way,” said Imtiaz Ali.