Censorship can be quite oppressive for artists says Sunil Shanbag

Agencies
September 18, 2020

Mumbai, Sept 18: Back in the early 1970s, Marathi playwright Vijay Tendulkar's play 'Sakharam Binder' -- which features the character of a bookbinder who 'takes in' women abandoned or dejected by other men and uses them as domestic help and sexual partners -- struggled with the Stage Scrutiny Board (the censor board) and sections of society. In 2020, a play explores the idea of censorship in the arts through this story.

Titled 'Sex, Morality, and Censorship', the play is based on Vijay Tendulkar's theatre classic 'Sakharam Binder's struggle with censorship. Recapturing the essence of Maharashtra's folk arts 'Tamasha' and the spirit of the 1970s, the play offers a mix of theatre, live music, dance, and video. Play director Sunil Shanbag and co-writer Irawati Karnik this week hosted a guided viewing of the performance of the play recorded at the iconic Prithvi Theatre in Mumbai. The viewing took place on Paytm Insider's theatre initiative, Front & Centre in collaboration with Studio Tamaasha's monthly series - TheatreNama.

The play also looks at the parallel theme of the "sanitisation" the folk arts, namely Maharashtra's Tamasha tradition, by conservative sections of society, director Sunil Shanbag said.

Asked how censorship has impacted free expression of 'taboo' topics on stage, Shanbag shares: "Interestingly only two states in India still retain the equivalent of the outdated colonial law of 1876, the Dramatic Performances Act. These are Maharashtra and Gujarat. In Maharashtra there are several examples of both official censorship of theatre by the stage scrutiny board, and unofficial censorship by non-state players, and mobs. The latter, unofficial censorship, follows no rules or procedures, and is unpredictable, hence very dangerous to deal with. Of late we do worry that official censorship too seems inclined towards conservatism which can be quite oppressive for artists."

In the guided viewing, the makers took the audience on the journey of what began as an idea to do a play about censorship, slowly developed and evolved into a full-fledged theatre production. "This process took about a year of work, and involved many collaborators, which included the actors. We shared these rich experiences and memories with the audience and showed them extensive excerpts from a performance of the play to illustrate and illuminate what we were saying," shared Shanbag.

Varun Khare - Business Head, Live Entertainment (IPs & Partnerships) at Paytm Insider, said, "Censorship has long plagued the sharp-edged satire and other nuances that are characteristic of Tamasha. Sex, Morality and Censorship, brings forth a fresh perspective on decades-old folk arts, with popular folk artists presenting their views on the art form, the ruthless civil censorship, and insights into the play itself."

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News Network
October 29,2020

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Mumbai, Oct 29: Prior to the release, the makers have renamed Akshay Kumar starring 'Laxmmi Bomb' to 'Laxmii' on Thursday.

Amid the backlash on the title, film critic and movie trade analyst Taran Adarsh confirmed that the title has been changed to 'Laxmii'.

"NEW DEVELOPMENT... #LaxmmiBomb title changed... New title: #Laxmii... Premieres 9 Nov 2020 on #DisneyPlusHotstarVIP... Stars #AkshayKumar and #KiaraAdvani, " tweeted Adarsh.

On choosing the previous title, film director Raghava Lawrence had said, "I considered going the same way for the Hindi remake but we collectively decided that the name must appeal to the Hindi audience as well and what better than Laxmmi."

"By god's grace, it was turning out to be a cracker of a film, so we named it 'Laxmmi Bomb'. Like a dhamaka of Laxmmi Bomb cannot be missed, the transgender lead character is powerful and radiant. Hence the name fits perfectly," he added.

The 'Khiladi' actor is playing the characters of 'Asif' and 'Laxmmi', one is trying to convince the parents of Kiara, while the other has come to take revenge.

The character of 'Asif' does not believe in ghosts as a dialogue confirms -- "Jis din sach mein mere samne bhoot aaya na, toh maa kasam choodiya pehn lunga. (The day a ghost appears before me in reality, I swear by my mother that I will wear bangles)."

The movie is set to premiere on November 9, 2020, on DisneyPlus Hotstar.

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News Network
October 28,2020

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Panaji, Oct 28: The Goa government on Wednesday asked filmmaker Karan Johar's Dharma Productions to tender an apology for "littering" at a village in the state during a film shoot recently and said that if the company fails to do so, a fine would be imposed on it.

A controversy has erupted after residents of Nerul in North Goa uploaded videos showing the waste, allegedly generated by the crew of an upcoming Deepika Padukone-starrer film, dumped in their village after the shooting got over last week.

After the issue was highlighted on social media, the state-run Entertainment Society of Goa (ESG) on Tuesday issued a show-cause notice to the lines producer hired by Dharma Productions.

Talking to reporters, Goa's Waste Management Minister Michael Lobo on Wednesday said the director or owners of Dharma Productions should apologise to the people of the state for littering the place and leaving it without cleaning it.

"Tender an apology on Facebook that it was an error and accept the fault. If they don't do it, we will find them. My department will impose a fine on Dharma Productions," he said.

Actor Kangana Ranaut took to Twitter to lash out at the film production houses for the "irresponsible behaviour".

"Movie industry is not a virus just for the moral fibre n culture of this nation but it has become very destructive and harmful for the environment also, @PrakashJavdekar ji @moefccAsee this disgusting, filthy, irresponsible behaviour by so-called big production houses, pls help," she said in the tweet.

Meanwhile, Dilip Borkar, the lines producer hired by the production house, said that the movie was shot in a villa in Nerul.

"The garbage collected daily after the shoot was dumped at a site designated by the local panchayat. It was regularly collected by the contractor except on Sunday when it kept lying there and videos of it were shot and uploaded on social media," he added.

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News Network
October 15,2020

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Chennai, Oct15: Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi is facing opposition over him signing up to play the lead role in the Sri Lankan cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan biopic '800' with some political parties in Tamil Nadu on Thursday alleging that the sports star was a betrayer of the Tamils.

MDMK general secretary Vaiko alleged Muralitharan has been "identified as a betrayer of the Tamil race" by Tamils around the world for supporting the then Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa during the 2009 civil war.

When Tamil mothers in the island nation staged a hunger strike on disappearance of thousands of Tamil men, he offended them by dismissing the protest as drama, Vaiko, also a Rajya Sabha MP, alleged and asked the actor to avoid the blame of acting in the movie that intended to portray a 'betrayer'.

Pattali Makkal Kathi founder leader S Ramadoss said the news on Sethupathi playing the role of Muralitharan was 'shocking'. The actor should not support a history of 'betrayal' out of 'ignorance', he said and alleged that the cricketer was a 'betrayer' of the Tamils and a loyalist of the Rajapaksa brothers.

Naam Tamizhar Katchi top leader Seeman wondered if a movie on Muralitharan a 'betrayer' and a 'stooge' of the Sinhalese could be screened in Tamil Nadu. He urged the actor to disassociate himself from the flick immediately in deference to the sentiments of the Tamil people spread across the globe.

Veteran Tamil filmmaker Bharathirajaa said if Sethupathi avoided acting in the movie he would be remembered with gratitude by the Tamil people everywhere. "The Tamil race will never forgive betrayers," he said.

On October 8, the actor announced on his twitter handle: "Honoured to be a part of this landmark project. Update soon." Following the announcement, social media was flooded with posts against the actor reprising the career of the cricketer and there were also many posts that supported him.

On Wednesday, Dar Motion Pictures, the producers of the film said '800' was only a sports biography flick that intended to capture the journey of a man from the migrant Tamil community going on to become the highest wicket taker of all times. "The film does not make any political statement favouring any community.This film is intended to be an inspiration for the young generation to achieve their dreams irrespective of the difficulties they come across in their journey.

We assure that this film will not showcase any scenes that would belittle the struggles of Eelam Tamils in Srilanka or hurt their sentiments in any way," it said. Also, the movie house said Tamil film fraternity of Sri Lanka would be engaged to showcase their talents on a global stage.

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