Civil society in Bengal divided over ban on 'The Kerala Story' in state
The West Bengal government's decision to ban the screening of "The Kerala Story" in the state seems to have divided the civil society.
Those who are against the ban cite three different logical premises on this count - the first being the justification of banning a film which has got clearance from the censor board, the second on the effectiveness of the ban in this age of OTT when shortly the film will be available on the OTT platform, and the third is that by banning the movie, the government has actually increased the public craze for it.
On the other hand, those who are in support of the decision to ban the movie feel that considering the changed social-cultural changes that the West Bengal had gone through in the recent past, there was a risk in allowing the screening of the movie and hence the state government has done the right thing by not taking that risk.
According to the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) General Secretary, Ranjit Sur, when the decision of the ban on screening was taken, already the movie had been screened in different multiplexes of the state for four days.
"But there had not been a single report of law & order problems over screening the movie. The state government should have allowed the screening of the movie and let the people of the state decide whether they accept it or reject it. I do not think that by banning the screening of the movie, the state government has taken a revolutionary step against attempts to create communal divide. This is a pure political game keeping in mind polarisation of the vote bank," he said.
Senior counsel of the Calcutta High Court Kaushik Gupta said that such bans on screening of movies in cinema halls or multiplexes are useless in the current age of internet and OTTs.
"Already there are reports of the movie being leaked online. Very soon the movie will appear in one or more OTT platforms. How will the state government stop people from viewing that there? Rather, this ban will now encourage even those people, who otherwise might not have gone to watch the movie, to view the same," Gupta added.
Acclaimed painter Subhaprasanna, otherwise known to be very close to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, disagrees with the state government's logic for banning the movie. According to him, he had always been against any forced opposition against any creative work. He said that when the censor board has cleared the screening of the movie, he does not find any logic on the ban enforced by the state government. "The people should have the freedom of accepting or rejecting the movie," he said.
Poet and educationist Subodh Sarkar, however, feels that the state government has done the right thing by banning the screen of the movie since it had enough elements to fuel tension. "To my opinion the state government has done the right thing by nor allowing the sparks to turn into flames," he said.
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