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Censor board saw sincerity of 'Parzania': Dholakia
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
Los Angeles-based Indian filmmaker Rahul Dholakia says he is surprised that the censor board cleared his just-released film "Parzania" in spite of graphic dialogues with a heavy dose of Hindi cuss words.
"Quite frankly, we made 'Parzania' in English because we never thought it would be released in India. I'm surprised that the censors cleared the film for release here. They passed it with very minor audio cuts. They somewhere saw the sincerity of the endeavour," Dholakia told IANS.
"Surprisingly though, the Indian censor board (Central Board of Film Certification) has allowed the explicit dialogues to remain."
However, the filmmaker has not been able to show it to the people of Gujarat due to opposition by Hindu rightwing activists. Multiplex owners in the state have refused to screen the film; consequently the director plans to approach single screen theatre owners in the state.
The film focuses on a Parsi family which loses its son in the 2002 communal riots of Gujarat that were triggered after the burning of a train in Godhra town.
Said Dholakia: "We're trying to get it released in Gujarat. But I don't think it would be taken kindly there. Nothing has changed in Gujarat. The government still believes in its own rightness. And no, I don't think that's like opening wounds.
"People need to be reminded of how wrong they can go in dealing with the communal issue. The hatred still simmers under the surface in Gujarat. But mine isn't a political film. It's the story of a family torn apart by events they can't control."
He had earlier directed fluff stuff "Kehta Hai Dil Baar Baar", which was based on the Steve Martin comedy "Father Of The Bride".
"Yes, I plead guilty," laughed Dholakia who's distributing the hard-hitting film on his own.
"But 'Parzania' was a story that had to be told. As a Gujarati I felt strongly about what happened there after the Godhra incident. My family has been actively involved in socio-historical issues in the state, whether it was the Quit India movement or the Gujarat Maha Sabha. You could say 'Parzania' is my initiation into the family's constant concerns."
"What happened after Godhra cannot be ignored or suppressed. When I used to go to Ahmedabad, I always used to meet this happy and peaceful Parsi family. Then Godhra happened. The family's son went missing. After that when I met them everything had changed."
The film was completed way back in 2004.
"But we kept it under wraps because of the sensitive nature of the theme. We didn't want any controversies. Then the film was stuck with the censors for about six months."
"Parzania" might be accused of a distinctly pro-Muslim leaning, showing the other side entirely as saffron savages.
"I'm not a pro-Muslim or anti-Hindu in 'Parzania'. I'm against fundamentalism. If you see the history of the post-Godhra Ahmedabad, you'd see that there was mass scale genocide against Muslims. I think it would've happened regardless of Godhra."
Dholakia is candid enough to see where his film is coming from, and where it'll go.
"I don't see the audience packing it in for 'Parzania'. But yes, it'll hit home with the thinking audience. We're putting out only 30-35 prints. And I'm one of the distributors."