Parzania, the movie that tells the story of a young boy Azhar who went missing during the Gujarat riots in 2002, was released across India on January 26. However, the Gujarat Multiplex Owner’s Association has refused to show Parzania as it fears that its screening would trigger vandalism.
With the Bajrang Dal and sections of the saffron family against the release of the movie in the state, the issue has clearly acquired political overtones. But the decision is clearly not a unanimous one-a criminal case against Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi for not allowing the screening of the film has been filed in a Mehsana Court.
Should Parzania be screened in Gujarat? That was the topic of discussion on the show Face The Nation on Wednesday.
With CNN-IBN’s Bhupendra Chaubey conducting the show, on the panel to try and answer the question were Azhar’s mother, Rupa Mody; writer, director and producer of Parzania, Rahul Dholakia and former MP, author and a great proponent of the ideology of Hindutva, Prafull Goradia.
Agreeing that there should be no restriction in the movie being screened, Goradia said, “Even if the Bajrang Dal threatens, how many people can go and surround a multiplex or a cinema house? The police can easily take care of them.” He said that the main reason for the multiplex owners refusing to screen the movie was because they did not find it lucrative enough.
When questioned if Parzania was not being screened due to commercial constraints, Dholakia said, “I disagree with that. My film is running in its third week right now all over the country. The Multiplex Owner’s Association head has himself said on camera that he was threatened. So, where does the question of box office revenues come in?”
“I made the film because I believed in it. Quite honestly, I did not look at the economic side of it because it was never the objective,” he added. The filmmaker also pointed out that over 3,000 people had filed an online petition saying that they wanted to watch the film.
Censor board vs state body
Gujarat Multiplex Owners Association vice president Mahendra Goswami said that the body’s decision to hold back Parzania from the being shown in the state’s theatres was because “the general public can be disturbed” by it.
But then, when the Censor board - the government body in charge of classifying and certifying all motion pictures for public screening in India - had cleared Parzania, shouldn’t it be left to the people to decide whether or not they want to watch the film?
Defending the multiplex owners’ stand, Goswami said, “The censor board has passed the film for the entire country but what people forget is that the issue is based in Gujarat and so should be dealt as a special case.” He also denied that there was any kind of pressure from the BJP government to ban the release of Parzania in the state.
Agreeing that the ban on the release of Parzania in the state was a matter of shame for all the Gujaratis, Azhar’s mother Rupa Mody said, “The people of Gujarat can relate to the movie in a better way than other. I appeal to the people to return my son.”
Pattern of sorts
It’s not the first time that a film has been banned in Gujarat. Over the past five years, the state has seen heights of intolerance. Last year, the screening of Fanaa was banned in the state after its lead actor, Aamir Khan, spoke out loud and clear against Modi.
It is another matter that once the cultural policing is done, it sometimes also helps those who have been targeted. Like in the case of Fanaa, CDs and DVDs of the film sold like hotcakes after the its screening was banned.
When asked if the filmmakers of today had the liberty to experiment with themes for their films, Dholakia said, “You have to be as correct as possible when writing the script, but one don’t think that one can take up the point of ‘vandalism in theatres in Gujarat’ when the entire country has seen the film for three weeks.”
Dholakia went on to say that neither the Gujarat riots nor any other riots in the country was ever started because of a film. “Film is always an effect, it is never a cause of the riots.” In that sense, movies only portray issues that confront the society and cinema at the end of the day is the real mirror for our society.
Final results of the SMS poll:
Should Parzania be screened in Gujarat?
Yes: 75 per cent
No: 25 per cent