A couple of days back, the Anti-Terrorism Forum (ATF) submitted a representation to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Hyderabad, asking it not to issue clearance certificates for two films — Acharya, starring Chiranjeevi, and Virata Parvam, starring Rana Daggubati.
Apparently, the ATF’s objection was based on the posters and publicity materials of these two films showing the lead actors as Naxals. While clarifying that they had not watched the two films in question, the ATF appealed to the Regional Officer of CBFC not to certify films that showcase Naxals and ‘anti-social elements’ as heroes.
When contacted, Balakrishna Vardhanapu, CBFC Regional Officer, confirmed receipt of the representation from the ATF.
“Yes, we received the appeal a couple of days back. We haven’t watched those two films yet, but basically, we follow our CBFC guidelines in certifying a film,” he said, adding that the ATF had issued a representation asking the Board not to certify films that glorify the Maoist and Naxal ideologies.
Meanwhile, Virata Parvam director Venu Udugula denies that his film is based on Naxalism. “The ATF needs to first watch the film to understand what I am trying to portray,” he says. “When they (ATF) haven’t watched my film, how will they know what my film is about? asks Venu.
“Virata Parvam is an intense love story that has a Naxal backdrop, but it is not a Naxal propaganda film. I have been reading on social media how people are misrepresenting the film, so I wanted to clarify the point,” he says.
Also, “There are several films on violence against women and rape, why isn’t the ATF appealing against those films?” Venu questions. “I don’t want to misuse my fundamental Constitutional right — ‘freedom of expression’ — I only want to tell a story,” the director says, and stresses that as a filmmaker, he has a responsibility for the films he makes.
One censor board member, on condition of anonymity, says, following their given guidelines, “We allow content about Naxals as long as it is aligned with the story. But if the anti-social elements are glorified and portrayed in a heroic and undesirable way then we shall deny the certificate.” The officer adds that, in such an event, filmmakers can approach the revising committee.
While Virata Parvam is set for an April 30 release, Acharya will be released on May 14. As the release dates near, it’ll be interesting to see what action the CBFC takes.