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Abolish Censor Board: Rakesh Sharma

The director advocates a rating agency instead. Rakesh Sharma sues NYC

india Updated: Feb 17, 2006 13:44 IST

Noted documentary filmmaker Rakesh Sharma, whose controversial Final Solution on the 2002 Gujarat riots won many international awards, is making a film on the lives of common people across the world post-9/11 terror attacks in the US.

"I am now working on a film looking at how the lives of common people have changed post-9/11. I have been shooting in New York, in Paris after the recent riots, in London and in India. I expect to shoot for the next couple of years in these as well as other cities worldwide," Rakesh Sharma saidin an interview.

"I am examining the linkages between the global upsurge of politics of hate and intolerance and the most significant change in the global political economy - the move away from the notion of a Welfare State to that of the Corporate Nation State," he said.

While shooting for the film in New York last year, Sharma was stopped, detained and harassed by the city's police detectives.

"Ironically, the day I was 'detained' by New York Police Department (NYPD), I was shooting with an immigrant taxi driver and speaking precisely about this kind of police behaviour. I was actually filming exterior shots of the taxi driving through traffic for this sequence itself when I was harassed by police."

He filed a suit against the city of New York for being detained and harassed while shooting his film.

Filmaker Rakesh Sharma feels that the Censor Board should be abolished altogether. "What we need is a rating agency, classifying films as being suitable for universal viewing or under parental guidance or only for adults," he says.

"Racial profiling has been an unfortunate consequence of the 9/11 and post 9/11 terror attacks. This is exactly what terrorists intend - they want civil liberties to be affected," Sharma said in an interview.

Excerpts:

Why did you make Final Solution?
My reasons to make the film were extremely personal. Same was the case with my previous film - Aftershocks: The Rough Guide to Democracy. In post-earthquake Kutch in 2001, I stumbled upon a horrifying story - the state-run Gujarat Mineral Development Corporation tried to profit from the tragedy by hastening the acquisition of two lignite rich villages devastated by the quake."

I felt I could not be a silent witness to the state's attempts to bulldoze the villagers at a time they were most vulnerable. Regarding Final Solution, I felt we should not remain silent when the state itself supports and actively colludes with those terrorising minorities.

See also:



Rakesh   Sharmasues New York city



I was assaulted: Rakesh Sharma relives his horror tale

Final Solution

was applauded for the first time in India and appreciated at the Apsara Awards last month. It must have been a moment of joy and triumph for you?


The Apsara Award for the best documentary is special for me, not just because it is the first Indian award for the film but also because it is a mark of appreciation from my own peers from within the film industry as these are truly independent awards, organised by the Film Producers' Guild.

What took the Indian critics so long to appreciate your work?
I really don't know and I wouldn't like to speculate. All I'd like to say is that in any other country, my work would probably have been showcased in domestic film festivals. As of now, none of my work has made it past any selection committee at official film festivals in the country and it has never been specially invited to any festival like International Film Festival of India (IFFI).

Recently you filed a suit against New York City - and you said the NYPD detectives made a racist remark - does this mean people are discriminated on the basis of their colour in the West?
Racial profiling has been an unfortunate consequence of the 9/11 and post-911 terror attacks. Ironically, this is exactly what terrorists intend - disruption of civil society! They want civil liberties to be affected, they themselves do not often support free speech, perhaps they chuckle in glee when freedom of expression is curbed in the name of national security or war on terror! The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) as well as the American Civil Liberties Union are fighting a number of cases dealing with such restrictions and with racial profiling.

Do we expect you to make a documentary film on racism in the West? The film I describe above will, among other things, deal with this issue as well. Ironically, the day I was 'detained' by NYPD, I was shooting with an immigrant taxi driver, speaking precisely about this kind of police behaviour. I was actually filming exterior shots of the taxi driving through traffic for this sequence itself when I was harassed by NYPD.

What do you feel about the Censor Board?
I personally feel that the Censor Board should be abolished altogether. What we need is a rating agency, classifying films as being suitable for universal viewing or under parental guidance or only for adults, etc.

Are you going to stick to documentaries or have you plans of making a full-fledged feature film? If yes, on what subject will you make the film?
I fully intend to make narrative feature films at some point. I do, however, feel that it is far more challenging to make documentaries. I find it more complex and creatively more satisfying to make documentaries at the moment as I find that I learn more about life and filmmaking. For one, as a documentary filmmaker, I do not have the luxury of rehearsals or retakes and in that sense, have to be far more alert and far more precise as a filmmaker if I want to capture a moment or a mood or a look or an emotion!

First Published: Feb 17, 2006 12:59 IST