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Hangman film controversy again in Bengal

July 18, 2005 12:21 IST

The controversy surrounding a film on capital punishment, withdrawn from a West Bengal government-run film complex allegedly for its anti-state content, was stoked afresh with eminent filmmaker Aparna Sen and her actor daughter Konkona Sen Sharma rallying behind it.

In an editorial in her Bengali magazine 'Sananda', Sen said the big question was not whether Joseph was for or against capital punishment but whether a filmmaker had the right to make and screen a film, which was in conflict with the views of Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee.

"Can Buddhababu's branding a film 'rubbish' be enough reason for its withdrawal from the state-run film hall?" the moviemaker, who has earned international acclaim with films like Mr and Mrs Iyer and 36, Chowrighee Lane, said.

The documentary film One Day from a Hangman's Life, critically commenting upon the state government's 'personal interest' in the hanging of rape and murder convict Dhananjoy Chatterjee, was withdrawn from the Nandan complex on June 20, two days into its premier, after Bhattacharjee chanced upon its poster and exclaimed 'rubbish'.

"Though the authorities cited poor ticket sales as the reason of the withdrawal, I have personally seen many movies at the same venue with not more than 25-30 people.

Documentaries rarely draw viewers and Nandan's credo has always been promotion of good cinema. When was commerce so important in its scheme of things?" Sen said.

Calling the film 'an outstanding piece of art', Sen, who had strongly opposed capital punishment in the run up to Dhananjoy Chatterjee's hanging in August 2004, alleged withdrawal of the film was a "direct infringement" on the freedom of expression of the director.

National Award winner Konkona has also taken up the cause of advocating the film. She recently sent DVDs of the film to a select group of movie personalities in Mumbai for their comments.

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