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Husain film screened after initial qualms

In a country where extra-constitutional authority has often impeded artistic liberty, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), now on here, made a bold move yesterday to screen an 18-minute documentary by MF Husain, Through the Eyes of a Painter.

bollywood Updated: Dec 01, 2011 12:01 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran

In a country where extra-constitutional authority has often impeded artistic liberty, the International Film Festival of India (IFFI), now on here, made a bold move yesterday to screen an 18-minute documentary by MF Husain, Through the Eyes of a Painter.

The screening of the movie had been a hit-and-miss game. In 2009, the festival, cowed down by threats from Right-wing radical groups, decided not to show the documentary.

Even this time, the screening was postponed by a few days.

The festival director, Shankar Mohan, explained that legal technicalities were the reason why Husain’s film could not be shown. Probably, he was referring to some court cases against the celebrated painter, who seems to be vilified even in his death. A sad state of affairs, indeed.

However, the festival did finally decide not to bend to dogmatists, and showed the documentary.

Through the Eyes of a Painter is a beautiful work produced by the Films Division (a wholly Government organisation), and is a winner of Berlin’s Golden Bear.

It is this renowned movie that some groups thought was not worthy of being screened at the 42nd edition of the festival.

Well, ultimately, the festival, whose motto is, The World Is One Big Family, went ahead to include Husain in its fold. Congrats to IFFI.

Another controversial documentary, Umesh Agarwal’s Brokering News, was also shown at the Festival. The work examines three aspects of paid news: media coverage of elections, film reviews and business/industry news.

Agarwal said he was not suggesting that the media should be controlled, but it should be responsible and accountable.

Well, in my long years as a journalist, commentator and movie critic, I have seen media men accepting money and gifts to write PR pieces or “positive’ film reviews. So, Agarwal’s work certainly had a point that calls for a debate.