New Delhi: Awaiting clearance for nearly two years and facing several hitches, a movie on Assam starring veteran actor Victor Banerjee is finally going to see the light of the day with producers National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) promising to clear it by next month.
The NFDC was of the contention that the bilingual film "As the River Flows" (Hindi) and "Ekhon Nedekha Nadir Xipaare" (Assamese), directed by Bidyut Kotoky, exceeded its budget.
The delay in the film`s clearance prompted several MPs from the northeast to intervene. Interestingly a couple of RTIs have also been filed in connection with the delay in clearing of other films by NFDC.
"There is no dispute whatsoever between the producers and the film`s makers. The film went over budget but things have now been resolved. We will clear it by the end of next month," NFDC managing director Nina Lath Gupta told reporters.
When asked about the clearance, Kotoky said, "I cannot comment now as I`ve not received any official intimation."
Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Paban Singh Ghatowar is following the events closely and says he will try to ensure that the film gets released soon.
"I hope necessary steps will be taken for arrangement of the funds. I will extend all possible help in my capacity in this regard," Ghatowar told reporters.
His predecessor Bijoy Krishna Handique had written a letter to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni requesting her to ask NFDC to issue clearance to the film.
Banerjee is also disappointed. "For two years the film has been stuck within the bureaucratic web of government intrigues and there seems no way to rescue the film from its clutches. I think it is disgraceful when honest and serious filmmakers like Bidyut are treated so shabbily and disrespectfully. There is so much happening in the powerful corridors of governance in our country that is making us sick
to hear and read about."
"As the River Flows", set in the world`s biggest inhabited river island of Majuli, is a socio-political thriller and talks of social conflicts and individual commitments in an age where the society has become so
self-centred. The rich culture and lifestyle of the famous Vaishnavite centres in Majuli form the theme. Besides Banerjee, the cast includes Sanjay Suri (in the lead role), Raj Zutshi, Priti Jhangiani and veteran Assamese actor Indra Bania.
The North Eastern MPs` Forum, of which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is an important member, is also pursuing the case.
"We are concerned about an early release to this film which highlights Assam`s culture and tradition. We are soon going to approach the authorities concerned in this regard," general secretary of the forum Birendra Prasad Baishya says.
Zubin Garg of `Ya Ali` fame has composed the music and legendary singer Bhupen Hazarika has sung the title poem of the film, which is the first from the northeast to be produced by NFDC.
The film`s story is of a journalist named Abhijit Shandilya (Suri) who is caught in a multi-layered world of intriguing happenings in Majuli.
"The script consciously avoids taking ideological sides. It is not an effort to promote either the government`s or the extremist`s point of view. It is a film about common people stuck in uncommon circumstances," Kotoky says.
The shooting of the film was completed within 31 days, much ahead of NFDC`s time-frame of 31 days. Sources said NFDC delayed in completing its audit on the film`s cost.
L B Tiwari of a Mumbai-based NGO Sahayak says about eight films are pending with NFDC for clearance.
He had filed an RTI seeking details from NFDC on reasons for films pending with it, their budgets and other details. But since he did not receive a reply even after one month of his filing the RTI, he wrote an appeal letter to NFDC.
"If they still don`t reply, we will file a complaint," says Tiwari.