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The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the West Bengal government to ensure smooth screening of a political satirical film that was earlier abruptly taken off the theatres across the state.

Bhobishyoter Bhoot, which translates as “the ghost of the future or the past of the future”, ran into trouble apparently over some remark by director Anik Dutta that was perceived to be critical of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

A division bench of justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta directed the state chief secretary, home secretary, and director general of police to ensure that there was no obstruction to the screening of the film at multiplexes and single-screen theatres.

The movie’s producers had earlier alleged that it was taken off theatres at the behest of the state government. Citing the SC order, one of them – Kalyanmoy Chatterjee – said, no one could stop the film from playing once it had been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification.

“I am happy with the order. We had put in a lot of effort making the film and now that the hurdles have been taken care of I hope it will be played at multiplexes and theatres across the state and people would be able to enjoy it,” said Chatterjee.

Dutta echoed similar views. “Once the censor board okays it, a film should be left to the public for acceptance or rejection.”

A day after the film was released on 60 screens on February 15, it was taken off abruptly, prompting intellectuals to term it an unofficial ban. Opposition leaders from the state had been vocal in favour of the makers of the film.

While the filmmakers kept mum, sources said, the ban was the fallout of an “anti-Mamata” comment by Dutta at the recently concluded Kolkata International Film Festival. Dutta had asked why there were hoardings carrying huge photos of the CM at the state secretariat, where most of the films were screened, instead of filmmakers.

Despite the SC ruling, state BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said, it was likely that theatre owners would be pressured against screening the film. Congress MLA Abdul Mannan called the order “a slap on the face of the state government”.

The Opposition in Bengal has been repeatedly accusing the Mamata Banerjee government of muzzling dissent through every means possible mean.

Director’s Jib

Director Anik Dutta had made an anti-Mamata comment at the recently concluded Kolkata International Film Festival. Dutta had asked why there were hoardings carrying huge photos of CM at state secretariat, where most of the films were screened, instead of filmmakers. 

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