'A Film That Stirs Up A Debate Is A Film That Has Done It's Job' - Anurag Kashyap At NFDC Film Bazaar!

By Aditya Savnal. Posted on November 23, 2015

An interesting panel at the ongoing NFDC Film Bazaar had directors Ketan Mehta & Anurag Kashyap speaking with legal expert Madhu Gadodia & journalist Anuradha SenGupta on the challenges of making a film based on real-life stories in India.

While Ketan Mehta has made films like Mangal Pandey & Manjhi, Anurag's career has been littered with cases filed against his films. None of his films have escaped legal hassles, with films like Paanch, Black Friday & Gangs Of Wasseypur probably being the most controversial of the lot. The filmmakers shared insights from their struggles with these legal cases & the discussion veered around what filmmakers should do & what they can't.

Ketan Mehta said that people in India easily get offended by anything and talked about the endless hassles he faced when he made his films including Mangal Pandey - The Rising which saw as many as eighty six cases filed against it. He talked about the various objection that were raised against the film including the depiction of the titular character and the alleged creative liberties taken while depicting his relationships with the fairer sex. Of course that wasn't the only film of his that bore the brunt of legal hassles. Mehta's RangRasiya which was a biopic on the famous painter Raja Ravi Verma also faced several legal issues before it finally made its way to the theaters.

The legal controversies that mired Black Friday during the time of it's release by now is known to all and sundry. And it took a long before it could be resolved and audiences could finally see it. Kashyap spoke in detail about the same during the session including some frivolous lawsuits that were filed against the film. 

 

A common grouse of the filmmakers was that most of these cases are filed by people who have not seen the film and they question your intentions and sensibilities without even watching the film.

He also talked about the case filed by the residents of Wasseypur prior to the release of Gangs Of Wasseypur. However he also admitted that once he showed them the film, all their grouses vanished and they were keen on getting it released in their town.

He also admitted that all the endless legal struggles he faced while making his previous films has made him wary of it and unable to undergo such long struggles to get his film made.

The discussion also veered towards creative freedom and the extent to which it can be exercised while making films based on real life stories. Kashyap was of the opinion that creative freedom is a double edged sword that can either get accepted or invite some serious legal troubles.

Talking about its legal aspects, Gadodia stated that the supreme court in India have started accepting films that are a hybrid of fact and fiction. She cited the examples of Vibhu Puri's Hawaizaada and Prakash Jha's Aarakshan that had several cases filed against the film. While Hawaizaada faced allegations of misrepresentation of the lad character, Aarakshan was banned in as many as five states for varied  reasons. And in both the cases, the lawsuits filed against the film were frivolous and were quashed by the Supreme court who reprimanded the people who filed the law suits and the courts which imposed the ban in case of Aarakshan. 

Furthermore, she also stated that for a film made on case awaiting verdict (e.g Black Friday), it is difficult to make the film. since the court feels the film can influence the outcome.  She however stated that for a case whose verdict has been decided by the trial court, there ideally cannot be any obstructions the film may face for its release. And such allegations can easily be dismissed in the court of law.

An audience member talked about Talvar which was accused of being a biased representation of the protagonists and how much of such depiction can a filmmaker be allowed to show. Kashyap was of the opinion that no film can please everyone and often it can lead to intense debates. And in his opinion, a film that invites debate is a film that has done its job successfully.

The panel was of the opinion that legal troubles are a part of a filmmaker's journey in India and one has to learn to find ways to overcome the same and tell the stories they want to. Ketan Mehta summed it up beautifully by asking filmmakers to decide if the story they want to tell is worth taking the risk or not?


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