Filmmaker Divya Bharathi’s second documentary Oratharum Varela (Nobody Came) landed in trouble soon after she released the trailer on YouTube on June 28 this year. The film is dedicated “to the hundreds of fish workers drowned at deep sea due to the government’s wilful neglect in Ockhi cyclone”. Earlier in July, the director’s house was searched by the police in civil dress.
Even though Bharathi is on bail, several complaints have been filed by the right-wing groups across the state including Gudalur police station. According to the FIR in Gudalur station, the trailer of Oratharum Varela disrespected national symbols, promoted communal disharmony, and negatively portrayed the government and the armed forces. Since then, she has been under police surveillance. “Police personnel haven’t so far followed me till my home. But they do follow me around 4 kilometers away from where I stay” says the lawyer cum activist.
Bharathi got out on conditional bail on the August 3 and she is required to sign at the Gudalur police station every day for a week. While it is a simple procedure where she has to go to the police station, sign and leave, she has been subjected to police inquiry on every visit.
On August 5, Bharathi was presented with a 25 point questionnaire by the Masinagudi police inspector, Muralidharan, seeking a range of details including her source of income and why she was producing the film, Orutharum Varela. Bharathi said, “I was taken out for questioning without any prior notice. They wouldn’t even tell me under what provisions I was being required to answer their question. All they said was that you have to answer.”
“Last year I made the movie Kakkoos, on manual scavenging. I faced massive attack from the state. Now after releasing the trailer of my second movie Orutharum Varela, on Ockhi cyclone, the repercussion that I am is facing is intolerable. The attack that I am facing today is not only from the state but from the centre.” The documentary revolves around the devastating effects of cyclone Ockhi that wreaked serious havoc on Coastal India in December, last year. Bharathi has been receiving threats and unwarranted visits from police officials at her residence and workplace in Madurai, ever since a trailer of the documentary was released on June 28. Reacting to the threats Bharathi says,” I believe this movie has more depth than my first movie. I knew this documentary too will become an issue but didn’t expect such witch-hunting soon after the release of the trailer.”
Divya Bharathi’s debut documentary film, Kakkoos (Toilet), which talks about open defecation and the plight of conservancy workers, also garnered heavy criticism and she even received threats of rape and murder. A cyber terrorism case was also filed on the film which was released on YouTube after it was denied certification and screening by the CBFC, India.
“If my movie is denied permission again this time, then I will publish it on YouTube. No matter what, I want people to know the ground reality,” says the determined director. “It’s not just me who is being targeted by the police, they are also trying to reach out to the crew members who worked with me in this movie”.
While the article 19A of the Constitution of India guarantees Freedom of Expression to every citizen in the country, artists are being hounded by right-wing groups for critiquing them ever since the BJP government came to power.
Courtesy: Indian Cultural Forum