New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) Renowned documentary filmmaker Rakesh Sharma was both delighted and saddened when the National Award committee selected his hard-hitting 'Final Solution', on the Gujarat communal violence of 2002, for the Special Jury Award.
'I am delighted and saddened at the same time,' Sharma told IANS in an interview.
'Delighted because after receiving 30 international awards for my last two films, this is my first National Award! Delighted also as now Doordarshan will show the film to a wider audience in view of its policy convention and the Supreme Court and Bombay High Court directives to show National Award winning films.
'Saddened because the ugly shadow of censorship continues to mark the National Awards, leading to its boycott by a section of documentary filmmakers,' he added.
His award-winning film graphically documents the changing face of rightwing politics in India through a study of the sectarian strife in Gujarat five years ago. However, it faced troubles with the censor board banning it in 2004 thanks to its charged content.
Sharma says there should not be any censorship on documentary films.
'Final Solution' itself is a perfect illustration of why there should be no censorship for documentaries. The president of India is now recognising the film for its excellence.
'The jury selected the film 'for its powerful, hard-hitting documentation with a brutally honest approach lending incisive insights into the Godhra incident, its aftermath and the abetment of large scale violence',' he said.
'But the censor board rejected it on the grounds that it promotes communal disharmony among Hindu and Muslim groups and presents the picture of Gujarat riots in a way that may arouse communal feelings and clashes between Hindu-Muslim groups.
'The censor said the film attacks the basic concept of our republic, i.e., national integrity and unity. Certain dialogues involve defamation of individuals or body of individuals.'
'Final Solution' was rejected by the Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2004 on the ground that it wasn't good enough. The organisers refused to screen it, let alone allow it into the competition.
'Ironically, a week after MIFF, 'Final Solution' created history at Berlin by winning two awards, including the Wolfgang Statudte award, never given before to a documentary film! The film now has over 20 international awards and has been screened at over 80 international film festivals,' said Sharma.
He sincerely hopes that the government will do away with censorship for documentaries.
'Documentaries should instead be brought under the purview of the Press Council of India - after all, NDTV news channel's special report on Gujarat riots and 'Final Solution' showed the same to the audience. So it is absurd to subject 'Final Solution' to a ban!'