After abruptly canceling a planned film festival at Ravenshaw University in Cuttack without providing a reason, the university authorities permitted students to hold the same event the next day, with certain conditions.
The organisers were told to remove two films Had Anhad and Gay India Matrimony from the line up that was prepared for the festival, according to a varsity official.
Vice-chancellor Sanjay K Nayak was not available for his comment on the whole issue, but the university’s public relations officer, Dharmabrata Mohanty, said, “Some students were against the screening of the two films. We did not want any trouble, and they were taken off the list.”
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A member of the varsity’s film society said that the festival, scheduled to start at 10.30 am on Friday, was scrapped by the authorities just a day before, reportedly due to an anonymous threat call.
The decision led to a massive protest outside the vice chancellor’s office, prompting the authorities to reconsider the decision, but with certain conditions, he said.
The three-day event, the first of its kind in the university, is largely focused on filmmaker Satyajit Ray, with an exhibition put up in his memory, apart from other sessions involving other directors.
Ray’s masterpieces Pather Panchali and Charulata are among the 15 films that were chosen for screening at the film festival.
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Talking to PTI, Ravenshaw Film Society secretary Subha Sudarshan Nayak said that Pather Panchali was among the films that had figured in the controversy on Thursday, as some students had objected to its screening.
“A section of students did not want Pather Panchali to be screened initially, claiming that the film romanticised poverty. The film was, however, shown today,” Nayak told PTI.
The varsity later picked two other films from the list and cancelled their screenings, he said.
Debalina Majumder, the director of Gay India Matrimony, termed the university’s decision “annoying and outrageous”.
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“I do not see any reason behind the last-minute decision to pull out our film from the list. Gay India Matrimony has received required permission from the Central Board of Film Certification. We are mulling the option of approaching the governor of Odisha, who is also the vice-chancellor of Ravenshaw University,” Majumdar told PTI over phone.
A group of students, reportedly affiliated to a rightwing outfit, however, came out in support of the university authorities.
“We are opposed to screening of the film Had Anhad and Gay India Matrimony as they are against Indian culture,” one of the students said.
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Sources at the Ravenshaw University stated that the authorities stopped the screening of the two films fearing a possible unrest on the campus.
(With agency inputs)