Banned by CBFC, Unfreedom is now available on Netflix in India

Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi
Apr 10, 2018 01:21 PM IST

Three years after being banned by the CBFC and the appellate tribunal FCAT, Indians can now watch Unfreedom on Netflix.

Almost three years after Unfreedom was banned in India by the Pahlaj Nihalani-led Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), on the grounds that it would “ignite unnatural passions”, the film has been acquired by Netflix and can be watched by the streaming service’s subscribers. Directed by Raj Amit Kumar, the Adil Hussain and Victor Banerjee thriller reportedly features a lesbian love story and also has a terror angle.

Unfreedom was banned in India by both CBFC and FCAT. Netflix users can now watch it online.
Unfreedom was banned in India by both CBFC and FCAT. Netflix users can now watch it online.

After the film was refused certification by CBFC, the makers appealed at the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), only to be refused again.

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Unfreedom: Film that Censor Board doesn’t want you to watch

Later Kumar and his team ran a campaign for a year during which they did around 100 screenings of the film globally and received encouraging audience response in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Los Angeles and New York.

Talking about the film’s release by Netflix, director Raj Amit Kumar said in a press statement, “I am glad that Unfreedom finds such a popular platform like Netflix after the ban in India and the efforts of censorship guardians in India to stop the film. It also exposes the hypocrisy and divide between reality and fantasy of censorship system in India. There is no way they can control and censor content in digital age, yet, they try their best to choke filmmakers like me who have something relevant to say that makes them feel threatened.”

Elaborating on the film’s ban by the CBFC, Kumar said, “The boldness of something is always defined by what you are allowed to say or not in a society. The boldness of an artist is always defined by what others artist around him have not said or what they are not allowed to express. Thus, it is not the content in my film per se that makes it bold, but it the context of a society in which it is told.”

Film banned for showing religious fundamentalism: Unfreedom director

He added, “I guess it is the boldest film ever because I did not give a damn about anyone or anybody. I didn’t care and I don’t think I will care in future as well. Unless artists take that approach and risk their well being, we will soon be living in a world where everybody is frightened to say anything truthful.”

Unfreedom is based in a society torn apart by political, religious and sexual turmoils. Alternating between New York and New Delhi, the film combines two stories about religious fundamentalism and intolerance. One of them follows a Muslim terrorist, played Husain, attempting to silence a liberal Muslim scholar, essayed by Victor Banerjee. The other story is about a young woman Leela (Preeti Gupta), who defies her devout father Devraj (Adil Hussain) and escapes an arranged marriage because she is secretly involved in a lesbian romance with Sakhi (Bhavani Lee).

The film’s technical team comprises of Oscar-winner Resul Pookutty (Slumdog Millionaire) who has done the sound design for the film and was nominated for the Motion Picture Sound Editors’ 63rd annual Golden Reel Awards.

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