Daag: A Short Film Censored at Symphony’21

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Daag a short film produced by “Junoon: The Dramatics Society” was censored at Symphony 2021, the online fest organised by K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering, Mumbai on “vague” grounds of the topic being “too sensitive”.

Film Flick- The Short Film Making Competition under Symphony 2021 was attended by Junoon: The Dramatics Society of Dyal Singh Evening College from the University of Delhi. The team cleared the elimination round after sending an excerpt of their film to the organisers. They were further informed that they are required to send the full cut of their short film for the final round, to be screened on 20th March. However, in a drastic turn of events, Junoon was informed that their short film, “DAAG”, has been censored and banned from being screened in the final round, merely 15 minutes before the screening on the grounds of not being suitable to be shown in front of the audience as the film touched upon the topic of prostitution.

Sakshi Singh, the President of Junoon said “At first, we paid Rs.150 for registering at the event and sent an excerpt of our short-film that accounted for about 4 minutes. After the first round, we were informed by the organising committee that our short film Daag has cleared the elimination round and for the final round, we are required to pay another Rs.150. The team was sent a link for the final round, to watch their film and of their adversaries. However, on the day of the finale round, merely fifteen minutes before the screening, I got a call from one of the organisers that our short film is not suitable for viewing and has hence been censored. Not only that but the members of the team were denied entry to the screening but also our calls and messages were completely ignored.”

Looking at this obnoxious behaviour from the organiser’s end and the unjustified reasons for censoring the short film, the team demanded a refund. On demanding a refund, the organisers informed them that they(Junoon) were at fault for not following the rules properly and came up with a whole bunch of new reasons for banning the film like, the film displayed cuss and foul language aimed at a woman and the movie promoted crime and violence, all of which was never mentioned before and is nowhere seen in the short film. They were also informed that their film may look like a promotion of prostitution, which may affect the image of their college and partners and banning the film will benefit the makers of the film too as they may be subject to lewd comments by the audience. Junoon stood firm to their ground and explained to the censor committee why the topic was chosen and the facts behind it, which fell on deaf ears of the organisers.

Nikhil Singh Sodhi, the director of Daag, came forward with his point of view that, “The approach of censoring a short film that only had a taboo topic of Prostitution as a backdrop, showcases the barbaric idealogy of different individuals who are only masquerading as open-minded millennials. Not responding and blatantly giving senseless reasons about the censorship gives a contradictory impression about the liberal mindset of the institution.”

“Junoon: The Dramatics Society” has decided to take the matter up to the DCTC and various theatre circuits across India.

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Tushar Aman Shrivastava
Tushar is currently pursuing English Honours and works for Harvard Business Review and Australian National University. He wants to settle on the snowy hills with his family and hopes that he does not have to talk to his neighbors too much.

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