Pakistani director Farhan Alam is 'shocked and hurt' at ouster from IFFI

Updated: Nov 21, 2017, 16:28 IST | Mohar Basu

Pakistani director Farhan Alam says he was offered no valid reason by IFFI jury to chuck his critically acclaimed film

Close on the heels of reports of the I and B Ministry dropping two Indian films, Ravi Jadhav's Marathi film, Nude, and Sanal Kumar Sasidharan's S Durga from the International Film Festival of India, now comes news of another elimination. Considered among the path-breaking films to emerge from Pakistan, Farhan Alam's Saawan, was also shown the door.

Recollecting his elation at receiving IFFI's invite, a copy of which is with mid-day and was also marked to the Pakistan High Commission for the grant of a gratis visa, Alam says, "I was thrilled to receive the invitation in October. But, on November 5, I received an email stating that my movie had been dropped from the festival due to scheduling constraints. I am deeply disappointed. It is shocking and hurtful."

The filmmaker hasn't been informed of any other reason behind the decision, but suggests that the strained relationships between the two countries could be to blame. "I am not sure [why the decision to drop the film was taken]. I wouldn't want to insinuate without certainty. But, there is no denying that India and Pakistan no longer share the relations that they did during [former president] Pervez Musharraf's government. Since my film was edited by an Indian [Aseem Sinha], I was looking forward to meeting him. Also, my parents were born in India. Culturally, we are tied. I have family there. They were keen to watch my lauded film. I wish it could've happened at IFFI."

Farhan Alam
Farhan Alam

Alam's film, also Pakistan's official entry to the Oscars, was also lauded at the Madrid Film Festival earlier this year. A suspense drama set in the deserts of Balochistan, the film traces the cumbersome journey of a disabled 9-year-old, who finds his way home after being abandoned. Alam doesn't sense any foul play in IFFI's desire to screen his film. Stating that he received an e-mail from the Ministry informing him that his film's Digital Cinema Package will be duly returned, Alam adds, "They intended to run it, but, I am unable to wrap my head around why they backtracked."

The resignation of Sujoy Ghosh as jury head of the festival's Indian Panorama section, apparently over the elimination of the Indian films, made Alam realise that things were amiss. He is however happy that his film will find a place at the Indywood Film Festival, which kicks-off in Hyderabad on December 1. "Festival director Shyam Benegal has chosen the movie. Some of my family members will be present. Being a Pakistani national implies that procuring a visa will be tough for me. But, I will attempt to make it."

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