Movies & Shakers: Cops Force Theatres To Stop Screening Bengali Satirical Film, Widespread Condemnation Follows

Movies & Shakers: Cops Force Theatres To Stop Screening Bengali Satirical Film, Widespread Condemnation FollowsWest Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee (Arijit Sen/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The screening of a Bengali film titled Bhobishyoter Bhoot (Ghost Of The Future) was stopped in movie theatres and multiplexes across Bengal on Saturday, a day after its release, on the orders of the state police. According to this newspaper report, the film, a political and social satire, was withdrawn by owners of the 44 single-screen halls and multiplexes it had released in on Friday.

The film’s acclaimed director, Anik Dutta, has been quoted in this newspaper report as alleging that the police asked hall owners to stop the screening of the film. The same report also quotes a spokesperson of Inox as saying: “We have been asked by the authorities to stop screening the film, keeping in mind the interests of guests”. The Inox spokesperson said that on Saturday, the local police station called up to say there were apprehensions of “law and order problems” and the screening of the film was thus stopped.

Dutta said his film depicts a group of ghosts, including one of a politician, taking shelter in a refugee camp and what follows is a satire on the current social and political situation in Bengal. He had strongly protested against the unofficial censorship of the movie, pointing out that Bhobishyoter Bhoot has the required CBFC clearances. Renowned director-actor Kaushik Sen, who has acted in the movie, said the future of the Bengali film industry would be “scary”. Eastern India Motion Pictures Association vice-president Subhas Dutta also criticised the withdrawal of the film.

The withdrawal of Anik Dutta’s film on the directives of the police comes a month after The Accidental Prime Minister was similarly yanked off theatres after some Congress goons vandalised a multiplex in Kolkata. Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had criticised the film and the cops took that as a cue to ask movie halls and multiplexes to stop screening the movie. The 34 years of communist rule in Bengal and the last eight years of Trinamool rule have witnessed the screening of many films critical of the ruling establishment being stopped.