Reached the venue in pouring rain and found a group of policemen at the entrance, found it unusual but did not take much notice. The screening was to start at 6.30 p.m. sharp and had reached just in time. The screening had not started even at 7 p.m. and just as the discontent was increasing, an announcement was made that the police wanted to stop the screening. "What? Why? On what grounds?" ... the questions flew from the audience. The organizers did not know as well, only that the police were asking them not to screen the movie. A written document was asked from the police for the same. While the police went off to get it Sanjay spoke a little about the topic of the film and its making.
Mu understanding of the few things he mentioned ...
Finally, a DCP and group of other policemen came with a search/seizure warrant. They confiscated the movie and the DCP explained their action by saying something on the lines of ...
"We have information that this movie can potentially create law and order problems, can leak sensitive information to terrorists and can be a threat to the nation."
Ah! the all-purpose no-questions asked reasons ... terrorism and threat to the nation. The irony being the movie was meant to be a preview screening organized by Vikalp, not a general screening and above all it has been screened in several cities ... Pune, Nashik, Bangalore, Shillong, Guwahati, Delhi, Patna. In Pune, it was screened at the National Film Archive of India Auditorium, a government institute, so this move the police seemed all the more ridiculous. The police had made up their mind based on their unidentified source and further mentioned that they would watch the movie and if they are convinced that it is not objectionable, will allow it to be screened. Looks like the Censor board is going to face some stiff competition.
It was first of a kind experience for many in the audience, and almost all sat till the police made a verdict that no screening would happen and gave it in writing. I am sure it was a first for many where for something very ridiculous and plain wrong the government (under an unsubstantiated claim) dictates what can/cannot be done and you are left helpless about it. The audience could not watch what India's freedom and India meant for Kashmiris, but got a taste of the declining freedom in non-Kashmir India ... certainly no reason to Jashn about.
p.s.: A movie screening is also scheduled on July 30, 2007 (Mon) / 7 pm by
Vikalp: Films for Freedom @ Prithvi House, Juhu.
p.p.s.: A related article in Mumbai Mirror is here.
Two more related articles are here and here.