Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Malayalam movie S Durga (previously titled Sexy Durga) and Ravi Jadhav’s Marathi film Nude are out of the soon-to-begin International Film Festival of India (IFFI) 2017, due to begin later in November in Goa. The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting overruled a decision of the jury, headed by director Sujoy Ghosh, to feature the two films in this year’s IFFI.
In wake of the two films being dropped from IFFI, Ghosh resigned on Tuesday. But what are the films about? Here’s a look at the two films.
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s Malayalam movie Sexy Durga, starring Rajashri Despande and Kannan Nair, chronicles the plight of two people, Durga and Kabeer, as they set out late in the night to catch a train. The film begins with Durga anxiously waiting on a deserted road, somewhere in Chennai, waiting for Kabeer. Once he arrives, they discuss ways to get to a railway station. They appear to be eloping and take a lift in a car with two men.
The two are inebriated and what transpires through the journey is what forms the crux of the film. As they travel, one of the men continues to ogle at Durga who, at one point, wants to get down from the car. The men, of course, don’t allow it stating that it is unsafe for Durga and Kabeer.
Sasidharan’s skill is such that he is able to express fear without resorting to violence. A master of the macabre, he uses the notion of fear very smartly. The men in the car continue reassuring the two they are safe but will not allow them to leave the car.
Intercutting into the film’s narrative is the festival of Garudan Thookkam from Kerala — where devotees pierce themselves with iron hooks and rods — a practice that the helmer feels is a clear indication that aggression and violence are an integral part of Indian society. Speaking to HT, Sasidharan had said, “People are oblivious of this. They have a very callous attitude towards violence, and are never bothered by violence unless it strikes them… It is a selfish society.”
National Film Award winning director Ravi Jadhav’s Nude is the story of a poor woman who works as a nude model for art students. The story’s idea comes from the director’s own experience as a student as Sir JJ School of Art in Mumbai, reports Scroll.
Ravi, who has faced commercial success with films like Natrang and Timepass, also made a Hindi film Banjo with Riteish Deshmukh.
While Sexy Durga won the Hivos Tiger Award at the International Film Festival of Rotterdam, it faced a lot of trouble back home. In February this year, Sasidharan wrote on Facebook that he was getting threats from a man claiming to be Rahul Shrivastava, president of Hindu Swabhiman Sangh. Shrivastava has a problem with the word ‘Sexy’ being placed before ‘Durga’ in the film’s title.
Sasidharan said: “When I said my movie has nothing to do with ‘goddess Durga’, Shrivastava wanted to know why I could not re-title the film as ‘Sexy Sreeja’. When I told Shrivastava that Sreeja was also the name of a goddess, he retorted by saying that it was also his wife’s name… “Arrey bhai… use the same logic here please… Durga is the name of so many girls too”.
The film’s lead heroine, Rajshri came to the defence of her director, stating the film’s title had nothing to do with religion and that the film’s theme, in fact, probes the patriarchal mindset and women’s safety.
“There is no connection with the goddess. The girl’s name (in the film) is Durga. But it’s not about the name, it’s about the mentality we are trying to show in the film. That’s what is more important than any other religious thing,” said Rajshri.
The film was in the news when it was refused censor exemption to be screened at the Jio MAMI Mumbai Film Festival 2017 as the Information and Broadcasting ministry concluded it “may affect the law and order as it hurts the religious sentiments”.
Sexy Durga’s problems were far from over. In October this year came another bouncer when it ran into rough weather with the censor board. The film got U/A after 21 audio mutes and a name change — S Durga. The film is now expected to release in November or December this year as S Durga, not Sexy Durga.
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