‘Super Emergency’ in Mamata’s Bengal as film banned

A popular Bangla film “Bhobishyoter Bhoot” (Ghost of the Future) has been taken down from almost all multiplexes and single screen theatres in West Bengal, just a day after it’s release on Friday, due to “instructions from higher authorities” as per hall owners .

Film buffs and youth activists on Sunday joined the director of the film, Anik Dutta, in a sit-in protest in Kolkata against the withdrawal of the movie.  The film is a social and political satire that reportedly also pokes fun on West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, apart from other personalities. Dutta has also directed the comedy film ‘Bhooter Bhobishyot’ (Future of Ghosts) that was one of the biggest hits of 2012 among Bengali films.

“Still, I haven’t got any official communication’ regarding the cancellation, all they (hall owners) said was that the instructions were from higher authorities. But I have received immense support and the film fraternity has shown great solidarity,” said the director.

Dutta read out a letter sent by veteran actor Soumitra Chatterjee during the protest. Expressing shock, Chatterjee called the taking off of the film ‘vindictive’ and ‘undemocratic’, and a “fascist policy”. He wondered whether a comment made by Anik Dutta during the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival last November had invited the ire of the state government.

Dutta had then criticised the excessive use of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s posters in and around the film fest venues and argued that the film personalities should get more limelight during such events.

“I strongly condemn such fascist policy even if they stay undercover,” Chatterjee wrote. In his letter, he hoped that all those responsible for taking off the film from the cinemas ‘will realise that it is an undemocratic act’ and ‘protest against it’.

A release from the film’s production company said prior to its release, the State Intelligence Unit wrote to the producer Kalyanmoy Chatterjee seeking a private screening ‘on a priority basis’.

They asked for the screening in the light of information received that it may ‘hurt public sentiments which may lead to political law and order issues’. The producer had immediately replied that the film has been passed by the CBFC and asking for private screening was beyond the jurisdiction and legal competence of the police.

The team of “Bhobishyoter Bhoot” got no further response till the film the released.

In Nov 2017, Mamata Banerjee had called the controversy over the movie Padmavati “unfortunate” and a “calculated plan” to destroy freedom of expression. She had said she would welcome Padmavati’s release in her state with open arms and make special arrangements for the same.

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