Goa wants to clean up its image on the big screen, but filmmakers say that’s not their job. After the state-run Entertainment Society of Goa on Wednesday introduced a new rule that makes it mandatory for producers to sign a declaration that they won’t “spoil the image” of the tourist hotspot, and also run a “brief synopsis of the film” by state authorities to seek permission for shooting, Bollywood is up in arms, calling the move ridiculous.
“The government can’t stop the print or television media or even the new media, be it Facebook or Twitter, from commenting on Goa. Then why should they pick on filmmakers? What are they trying to hide from the world? Drugs, prostitution or an increasing crime rate? The rule flies in the face of creative freedom. We who love Goa think it’s an awful idea,” says filmmaker Pritish Nandy whose production The Accident was shot in Goa. Onir, who shot his film My Brother Nikhil there, calls it an “autocratic” move.
“Our country seems to be moving backwards in terms of creative freedom. Instead of worrying about the portrayal of Goa in cinemas, they should worry about the corruption destroying their green cover, and the drug mafia that is operating successfully because of corrupt government officials.” Actor Sanjay Suri, who acted in the film, agrees. “I think they might as well ban cinema if they want mindless censorship at every step. And kill all kinds of creative freedom. If states are so bothered about their image, they should tackle issues like corruption, poverty, lack of education and healthcare before brushing things under the carpet.”
But, some say the Goa government has a point. Though they can’t attribute drop in tourism to movies, all they are asking for is a brief synopsis of the film. It’s a win-win situation for both the state and Bollywood.” He adds that most states conduct subtle checks on film content before allowing filming. Kirti Thakar of Gujarat Tourism confirms: “We have a special cell that makes sure films that are being shot here do not impact the state negatively.” The law, too, says any state is free to come up with such a rule. “Every state has the right to come up with a regulation that is in its interest,” says Nitin Gupta, lawyer.