For Jashn-e-Azadi, this week begins with a screening on Feb 24th at Thrissur in Kerala, where it will show at the Vibgyor International Film Festival.
This will be followed by a screening at on Feb 27th at New York University, part of the South Asia Documentary Screening Series curated by NYU Libraries.
This has been a busy month: the last screening, organised by the student group AISA at the Delhi School of Economics, Dept of Sociology turned into an event far outside of itself. From the day it was announced, the screening was under scrutiny by the usual stalwarts of the Right Wing. (And the Deccan Herald began to describe the film as “Symbiosis banned”, whatever that means.) Although the usual suspects showed up to ‘protest’ the event, the picture accompanying the report in The Hindu makes clear that the ABVP (and the unfortunately named Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena) are not yet a major force on the Delhi University campus. (Estimates for that day varied from 15 to 20 youths)
But the reports in the Indian Express and particularly in The Times of India, draw attention to something remarkable that happened that afternoon on campus. Simply put, the Dept of Sociology stood its ground, and insisted upon its right to show such material as was thought appropriate for the students. Dr Nandini Sundar, Head of the department, read out to the students the letter written to the Proctor, which said that
“the film screening in question is a routine matter in our department, and it has never been the practice to take permission for such screenings which pertain to our academic program.”
In the face of this clear and unambiguous position, both the University authorities, and the Delhi Police were forced to support that stance. The Times of India quotes the Dy Commissioner Police (North), I B Rani’s quite significant response:
“Since it was a private screening, there was no need for students to seek permission from us. The film was shown inside the classroom. We had, however, decided to station our officers at the spot after getting intelligence inputs that certain groups might protest in the area.Though some protested outside the venue, we did not need to arrest or detain anyone”.
Later AISA issued a statement which can be read here on kafila.org
(Not many noticed that the same day as the Dept of Sociology screening, a smaller, more quiet screening was held by the Informal Discussion Group at St Stephen’s College. An excellent discussion followed… Different strokes work for different folks)
Perhaps there is a lesson in this for those at the Symbiosis College in Pune (and the Pune Police) whose reaction was to crawl when they were simply asked to bend. Our previous post has some of the links to that story, but in case you missed those you could start with the excellent coverage in The Hindu. If you want to draw cheer from the sad goings on in Pune, there is an excellent post by a student of Symbiosis, Akshat Jitendranath. We like to think that Akshat had been provoked by a commentary a few days earlier on the same site by the redoubtable Shuddhabrata Sengupta.
Kafila.org also carries an excellent account of a more samizdat screening held last week at Presidency College, Kolkata, posted by one its organisers, Waled Adnan. Apart from an ‘alert’ that appeared in the Indian Express, the coverage in the Kolkata editions of The Hindu, The Hindustan Times, The Telegraph, and the Indian Express do give a sense of the possibilities of student action! All power to students!
As you can see, a busy week for a 5 year old film!