The DVD containing the unauthorised version of Satyajit Ray’s documentary, Sikkim, was handed over to the Kolkata film festival authorities by the late filmmaker’s cameraman on a request from West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.
A local court in Sikkim gave an interim stay on the film’s screening, and the order arrived on Thursday just after the documentary was shown at the Kolkata Film Festival. The verdict was issued after the documentary’s rights-holder, Art and Culture Trust of Sikkim (ACT), moved the court.
ACT bought the rights of the film in 2002 (10 years after Ray's death) from the Chogyals, the rulers of the state before Sikkim merged with India in 1975.
“The chief minister asked me for the film and I couldn’t refuse him,” cameraman Soumendu Roy said on Friday. Roy said he got the print from Ray himself.
Roy had worked as Ray’s cameraman in 21 films over almost 30 years.
“I wasn’t aware of the legal angle to the film and its screening but I am putting everything on record,” he said.
On November 9 and 10 HT reported that the Kolkata Film Festival’s decision to screen Sikkim might lead to a legal wrangle because it was done without the producer’s approval. The stay has come as a personal blow to Bhattacharjee, who took the initiative to screen the documentary at the festival.
Since 1995, the year of its inauguration, Bhattacharjee has been the moving force behind the festival.