Rakesh Sharma: All my films will be banned this time

Updated: Dec 07, 2016, 15:33 IST | Snigdha Hasan |

Rakesh Sharma is no stranger to censorship. His 2004 documentary, Final Solution, on the Gujarat riots 

Rakesh Sharma (in pink) during the filming of Malegaon

RAKESH Sharma is no stranger to censorship. His 2004 documentary, Final Solution, on the Gujarat riots was initially denied certification by the censor board, and the Mumbai International Film Festival 2004 refused to screen it. Soon after, the film went on to win two awards at the Berlin International Film Festival, and that’s when it began to make ripples back home. Final Solution won the President’s Indian National Film Award that year.

Sharma will be discussing his craft, its challenges, and his upcoming documentaries at a talk today. Excerpts from an interview:

With 24x7 news channels and smartphone videos capturing events in real time, what happens to a documentary seeking to record the same?
People are watching no more than two-to-three-minute videos on smartphones, but as more bandwidth becomes available, watching 10 to 20 minutes of content would become normal. Also, TV news is less field-based today, which has created a greater space for documentaries. for they explore a subject thoroughly. There is great interest in such content, so the future of this medium is very secure.

Tell us something about your upcoming films.
I consider the Malegaon blasts and what followed as the third marker of Hindutva assertion in recent history, after the Babri Masjid demolition and the Gujarat riots of 2002. Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan was busy with other projects when he told me that no filmmaker had ventured to Malegaon and suggested that I go there. After eight years of documentation, Malegaon is set for a release after April.

Simultaneously, I decided to revisit the people I had met for Final Solution — foot soldiers of the riots and affected families — and the three-part series Final Solution Revisited is the culmination. It’s the story of the small fish being caught and the big fish going scot-free.

Are you worried about censorship this time, too?
I’m sure this time all my films will be banned. When Final Solution was screened for industry professionals in 2004, a group broke into slogans of Jai Shri Ram. Leading the pack was Pahlaj Nihalani, the present censor board chief. Need I say more?

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