Outside the hotel, Kamal Swaroop is finishing a smoke. He watches the sky, cloudy after a small shower. Mumbai-based Kamal likes the weather in Kerala, and its multi-floor buildings.
Outside the hotel, Kamal Swaroop is finishing a smoke. He watches the sky, cloudy after a small shower. Mumbai-based Kamal likes the weather in Kerala, and its multi-floor buildings. He has been to many film festivals across the world, but it is his first time attending one in Kerala, and is a jury member for the fiction category. The jury work begins on Saturday, and so Friday has been a day to watch the films at the ninth International Documentary and Short Film Festival screened at the Kairali-Sree-Nila Complex in Thiruvananthapuram.
Kamal could have brought his banned documentary film The Battle For Banaras and screened it in Kerala. There would not have been any objections despite the film not getting a censor certificate. But he wants to follow the rules and after getting rejected by two censor committees, he, with producer Manu Kumaran, is taking it to the high court. The film which covers the 2014 general elections from Varanasi, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had contested from, did not get anything in writing after the first rejection. The second committee, however, wrote that there was derogatory language accusing political leaders, comments about political parties and communities. “Unofficially though I came to know that it was because they felt Modiji was shown in a bad light, and it might be pro-Kejriwal. But it is not,” says Kamal. “It covers 40 days of the elections, including the public rallies, of all political parties and the independent candidates. The Muslims had felt that none of the parties have helped them so far, so they root for Mr Kejriwal. Realising this, the BJP tries to woo a united Hindi community, all castes included. And it is not my observations but of the man on the street.”
Next came his first film Om-Dar-B-Dar that had to wait 26 years for a release, becoming a sort of predecessor for his Banaras film.
This man whose films had gone through years of shelf life, enjoying a screening only at festivals abroad, does not believe Udta Punjab, the newest film battling with the censor board, falls into the same category. “It’s because the film is coming at the same time as the Punjab elections, otherwise the film would have passed with a few cuts.”
In Kerala, Kamal has busy days ahead but then it is not a new place for him. He has many friends here, students too, like Bina Paul Venugopal, film editor and artistic director of many editions of the International Film Festival of Kerala, and her husband, cinematographer-director Venu. He knows the films of this place — Adoor’s all, Aravindan’s all. And John Abraham had been a close friend.