Mumbai Police Shut Down Kak’s Jashn-e-Azadi Documentary

Mumbai (INDIA): Last month Mumbai police stopped the private screening of Sanjay Kak’s documentary ‘Jashn-e-Azadi’ [How We Celebrate Freedom] at Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan in Mumbai’s Prabhadevi area, which was followed with a similar action at Prithvi Theatre in Juhu. Now the police have asked the Censor Board of Film Certification in India to summon Kak for ‘organizing illegal screening of the documentary’.

Mumbai police say Kak’s documentary does not have a censor certificate in a letter to the body. However, CBFC has refused to do so, as Kak’s case doesn’t fall under the purview of Indian Cinematographic Act. Earlier, police claimed receiving emails from people regarding the documentary, had “scenes of a provocative nature, and glorifying terror and violence”, and had termed their action in accordance with the law of the land by confiscating the DVD player and the discs.

‘Jashn-e-Azadi’ was first screened in New Delhi and later received applause from audiences in Srinagar and other places in India. Kak’s ‘Jashn-e-Azadi’ dwells on the experience of the Kashmiri people during the protracted period of strife they have suffered.

Last month, the documentary was appreciated on its first festival screening at Osian’s Cinefan Festival of Asian & Arab Cinema in New Delhi. Jashn-e-Azadi has so far been screened in New Delhi, Srinagar, Bangalore, Pune, Nasik, Guwahati and Shillong.

“It is outrageous and unacceptable”, said Kak, who spent two years in the making of Jashn-e-Azadi. Kak adds “I made the documentary for the people. I want them to see for themselves and decide, what exactly is happening in Kashmir. I didn’t make Jashn-e-Azadi for personal viewing and we will continue to screen it in India”.

The feature length documentary by film-maker Sanjay Kak which explores the implications of the struggle for Azadi (Freedom), in the Kashmir valley has received criticism by Kashmiri pandits for not mentioning their exodus from Kashmir.

Jalees Andrabi is a Delhi-based journalist who covers a wide range of issues in India.