Is India going to witness its first ever nation-wide ‘protest screening’ this month?
On Aug 1, 2015, the screening of Nakul Singh Sawhney’s documentary film “Muzaffarnagar Baqi Hain- Muzaffarnagar Eventually” on the Muzaffarnagar riot that took place before the 2014 elections that rocketed the BJP to power, was disrupted by a group of 30-40 ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) workers. You can read the whole article here.
To condemn this act of hooliganism, censorship and the gradual saffronisation of modes of expression in India, Cinema of Resistance (COR), a cultural campaign, has called for a nation-wide screening of the documentary film on the 25th of August, 2015 as a mode of protest.
Their call reads: “Cinema of Resistance urges all of you to try and organize screenings in your respective towns, villages, mohallas, kasbas. On the same day. To give a resounding shout out. If you don’t get a hall, organize in a room or a rooftop maybe. If you can’t get a projection screen, use your computer or TV screens. If you can’t get a projector, simply hold a solidarity meet. Please contact us if you need a DVD. Cinema of Resistance will extend all possible assistance.”
This warm call for an organised protest-screening against the terror reigning on freedom of expression and right to dissent, has so far received responses from Allahbad, Bhopal, Chandigarh, Chennai, Chittogarh, Delhi Gorakhpur, Howrah, Kolkata, Mumbai, Raipur and Shantiniketan, Udaipur, Sikkim as more and more people are flooding the Facebook event page for a screening in their city and taking the initiative to arrange one.
Why 25th of August?
“25th August is Kandhamal solidarity day. 7 years ago, the Sangh brigade unleashed and orchestrated widespread communal violence against the (mostly Dalit) Christians of the Kandhamal district, Odisha. Homes and churches were vandalized and burnt, people massacred, women raped, and entire populations rendered homeless. Now, after half a dozen years, justice is no closer to being achieved than it was at the time of the violence. In fact, the injustice and violence continues. Just like in Muzaffarnagar”, writes a member of COR on their event page.
“This is essentially a matter of freedom of expression. The way in which the right-wing ABVP (Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad) disrupted the screening of the documentary and indulged in rowdyism betrayed their true character. We want to make it clear that we will not allow them to censor us,” said COR national convener Sanjay Joshi as reported by Indian Express.
However, nation wide screening is not new in India. The director of Final Solution, Rakesh Sharma writes on the event page, “in 2004, I had countrywide screenings of Final Solution on Gandhi’s anniversary (over 250 – in homes, halls and assorted venues)”
Meanwhile, ABVP national executive council member, Rohit Chaval, has warned that any future screening of the film will meet the same fate.
So, IS India going to witness its first ever nation-wide ‘protest screening’? Only time will tell. Rest assured that the show is on. Cinema Jaari Hai!