Madhya Pradesh government scuttles documentary on Chattisgarhi theatre

We are dismayed to learn that the Madhya Pradesh government has scuttled the filming of a documentary on traditional Chattisgarhi theatre, commissioned by the Ministry of External Affairs and to be anchored by well-known stage personality Habib Tanvir. From press reports, we learn that the shooting of the film was to have begun in the first week of June, but despite repeated requests from the Ministry of External Affairs, the Madhya Pradesh government has refused permission to shoot the film on the specious plea of Naxalite activity in the area. The feeling that Naxalite activity is merely an excuse is strengthened by the fact that two filmmakers of Calcutta were allowed to film in the region till very recently. Several cultural organizations, activists and intellectuals of the region have also protested against the state government’s decision. The state government’s refusal to grant permission not only deprives the people of Bastar from being represented in the film but also denies the right to free expression to creative artists.

We urge the government of Madhya Pradesh not to throttle freedom of expression by denying Habib Tanvir and other artists the permission to make a film on the region of Bastar.

Signed, among others, by:
Bhisham Sahni, Vijayan, Moloyashree Hashmi, Parthiv Shah, Manjira Dutta, Madangopal Singh, H.K. Dhanda, Gautam Navlakha