The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to certify ‘Porkalathil Oru Poo,’ a film based on real life story of television journalist, Isaipriya, who was allegedly killed in captivity by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the final stages of the civil war in 2009, on the grounds that the film could strain “friendly relations with foreign States.”
The film director, K. Ganeshan, who is yet to get a formal letter of rejection from the CBFC, protested the decision. “What if Sri Lanka is a friendly State? Are we not allowed to criticise even when its armed forces have committed blatant human rights abuses? Even the Tamil Nadu government has passed a unanimous resolution in the Assembly not to consider Sri Lanka as a friendly nation,” he said.
This narrative around the Sri Lankan civil war has been hotly contested, resulting in a number of films being banned by government and others facing protests from various Tamil groups and parties in the State.
While the critically acclaimed documentary ‘No Fire Zone’, made by Channel 4, was banned by the Sri Lankan government, Tamil student groups and parties called for a boycott of Santhosh Sivan’s ‘Inam’ and Hindi film, ‘Madras Café, on the pretext that they misrepresented the Sri Lankan conflict and tilted the narrative in favour of the Sri Lankan government.
Actor S. Ve. Shekar, the Regional Chairman of CBFC, defended the decision saying that the board merely followed the Cinematograph Act.
“Basically, the act is very clear: certification of a movie cannot be given if it could strain friendly relations with a neighbouring country. We have only followed the rule book. We cannot give a certification based on our whims and fancies,” he says.
“We can argue about what happened during the civil war, but that doesn’t mean that we have to allow a film to be screened. Brutal murders happen in society, but does that mean we can make a film out of it? The director is free to screen the movie outside the country without any cuts,” says Mr. Shekar.
CBFC says “it could strain friendly relations with foreign States”