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IIT Bombay Cancels Film Screening Because of ‘Adult’ Homosexual Content

Filmmaker Siddharth Chauhan said that he wasn't even informed of this decision.

Siddharth Chauhan, an Indian independent filmmaker from Himachal Pradesh, has alleged that his short film Pashi that was due to be screened at the IIT Bombay Film Festival was removed from the roster on account of “adult” homosexual content.

Chauhan, speaking to NewsCentral24x7, said that it was the organisers of the “IIT Bombay Filmfest 2019” who had sought him with plans to screen his film. They had conversed at length over emails. Two days before the film was due to be screened (on February 9), however, Chauhan was told that the film would no longer be screened at the festival when he tried to get in touch with the organisers. “I called the organisers to check the film’s schedule because the lead actor was interested in going for the screening. I was then told that they would get in touch in the evening. When we spoke next, I was told that the screening was cancelled.”

When Chauhan enquired further, he was told that the faculty felt certain scenes in the film would make those present feel uncomfortable.

Chauhan’s film Pashi — a Pahari word for bird trap — is the tale of a young boy falling in love with an older man. As per the filmmaker, the film had been screened at two different colleges in Delhi University and had never evoked such a reaction. “Teachers and students watched the film together and no one felt uncomfortable. In fact, the film triggered a healthy conversation about consent and sexuality.”

“This is censorship,” said Chauhan, adding, “The only reason I said yes to the screening was that I felt this was an independent film festival that encouraged independent cinema.”

After the screening was alleged, Chauhan alleged that he was approached by members of the organising team — students of IIT Bombay — who feared that putting this on social media would tarnish the festival’s reputation. “They are students, and they are trying their best, but it is the faculty that was responsible for this,” Chauhan said. What is curious, he noted, was that while his film was cancelled, the festival was due to screen another movie that had a scene featuring a woman masturbating. When he questioned this double standard, he was told that that the said film was allowed because it did not feature any nudity.

Pashi premiered at the Rhode Island International Film Festival in 2017 and has since been screened at more than 30 International Film Festivals and has won seven international awards.

NewsCentral24x7 has been unable to get in touch with the organisers of the film festival so far.

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