The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has directed that the word "Bangladesh" be either dropped or replaced in a BJP-funded ad film backing the Citizenship Amendment Act, with the filmmaker describing the objection as "meaningless" and "against the spirit of the particular situation".
Director Sanghamitra Chaudhuri also expressed her dismay over the CBFC decision coming on Monday - over six weeks after she had submitted the film for clearance on December 27 - and claimed the "topicality" of the films has "now been lost".
When contacted by IANS, an official at the CBFC office here refused to comment on the issue.
Chaudhuri, who has come up with a clutch of four pro-CAA ad spots - three of them of 15 seconds duration and the other running for 20 seconds - said the objection was regarding one of the shorter films.
"That advertisement has a conversation where a Muslim man asks: 'Ki re Salma, sabai naki koitese amago Bangladesh-e phira jaete lagbe. CAA na ki jeno lagu hoitase. (Salma, everybody says we will have to return to Bangladesh as something called CAA has come into force)," Chaudhuri told IANS.
Chaudhuri said the specific portion was in Bangal dialect (used by people who originally came from then East Pakistan).
"Here I am showing a Muslim family who had come to India long back from (what is now) Bangladesh and so they use the Bangal dialect. What I find strange is that they have not told me to remove the particular dialect, but they only want 'Bangladesh' to be dropped or replaced. I don't know how that is possible. I find this meaningless and not in sync with the particular situation," she said.
She said the ad films wanted to send out the message to those feeling apprehensive that nobody would have to return to Bangladesh because of the CAA, "which only gives citizenship and does not take away anybody's".
"It had the answers to common queries by commoners," she said.
Asked to specify the reason given by the CBFC for its order, she said it as argued that the change was needed to conform to the guidelines that they have that friendly relations with foreign countries should not be affected.
"According to them, if we bring the word Bangladesh, then it may seem to the neighbouring country that we want to thrust the people back on them. It would make Basngladesh aggrieved and harm indo-Bangladesh relations," she said.
Chaudhuri was also "unhappy" over the delay on the part of the CBFC in giving its order.
"They sat on it for one and half months. There is a deadline. We wanted to show it when Bengal was burning, with people torching trains, railway property and buses after the enactment of CAA. Now it seems it has lost much of its relevance."
Asked whether she would effect the change, Chaudhuri said: "All of us involved with the ad will now sit down and take a decision regarding changing the ad content.
"I will take the certification, but we may have to scrap it. It may lead to a loss of Rs 1 lakh," she added.
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