What happens when your story becomes popular in India?
You’ll probably get a lot of emails from people asking if you can make a film for them, but what happens when the film doesn’t make the cut?
And, most of all, what happens if it gets banned in the country?
In a country where the media and entertainment industries are not as big as the US, there’s little incentive for the Indian media to get creative, so they have to keep quiet.
For instance, when filmmaker Prabhakar Bhandari launched the popular Bollywood film, Meez, the film was given a green light by the censor board.
But it didn’t make it to the screens in India, and Bhandaria, the filmmaker, had to fight to get the film released in cinemas.
But the censor boards approval was short lived.
“In 2016, a film by filmmaker Prubhat Varma, The Golden Star, was banned in Delhi, a city with the highest number of people killed by the police,” explains Vinay Dhanakumaran, the director of the documentary.
“Bhandari appealed to the Film Commission of India (FCI), the highest court of India, to have it released.
In 2017, the FCI agreed and it was allowed to be released in a handful of cinemas across the country.”
Bhandar appealed again, but it too was not allowed to play.
And then, the government gave him a green signal.
“Then I started seeing people come out with the same pitch.
They said, ‘We want to see this film, why don’t you release it in the States?’
I thought, ‘If it’s a film, I don’t know what else can be done.
If we can’t get it released, then let’s just do nothing’,” Bhandara says.
Bhandaro, who is a filmmaker himself, believes the situation is not so dire in the US.
“The biggest thing that has changed is the fact that the Indian film industry is bigger and the films are bigger, which allows the producers to make more money,” he says.
But what happens to a film that gets banned?
“There’s always a chance, but most people don’t want to give up on the project.
A lot of films are put out in the past,” he adds.
B Handari is hoping that by releasing his film in the states, the situation will improve and the film will get released in the cinema.
But, if he doesn’t get the green signal, he won’t be able to get his film made in the first place.
“It’s all down to the filmmakers.
If a film gets banned and the distributor isn’t able to make money, then the film isn’t made,” Bhandare says.
The film has received its own share of controversy.
In January 2017, it was reported that a girl’s story was being used in the film, with some viewers alleging that the film portrayed a lesbian relationship between a boy and girl.
The girl’s mother filed a complaint with the FCID against the film’s producer, Rakesh Tandon, alleging that it had “violated the film-making norms”.
“The film’s producers were given a ‘green signal’, but it has not been released.
It was banned and they had to pay compensation to the producer.
We are fighting for the right to make films in India,” B Handare says, adding that he would not allow his film to be made in a state that doesn’t give equal rights to its filmmakers.
He believes that the ban on his film should be lifted in order for it to be played in the cinemas and given a chance to make a living.
“I hope the film gets released in theaters, as it has been produced by a young filmmaker who was willing to go through the process of creating a film,” he concludes.