Veteran Indian documentary filmmaker of international repute Anand Patwardhan will be honoured with the prestigious V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award at Mumbai International Film Festival (MIFF) 2014, the world’s largest and oldest international festival for non-feature and animation films, which will be held between February 3 and 9.
Though a formal announcement is expected on Saturday, VS Kundu, director general, Films Division, confirmed the development. “The ministry has already conveyed the same to Patwardhan,” he said.
The filmmaker told dna he was happy about being selected for this honour. “I think this is an award not only for me but for all the many human rights causes my work represents. This work is not an individual effort. Many people have contributed with their sweat, toil and love to create them,” said Patwardhan, whose Jai Bhim Comrade was chosen as the best film in MIFF 2012.
Refusing to be drawn into if recognition by a government-sponsored platform was a vindication, considering many of his works ran into trouble with the system, he said, “I don’t think I look at it from the point of view of personal vindication. My films speak about the reality of the disadvantaged. It is possible that some people don’t like to face the truth they depict. I don’t set out to create controversies. I make films about legitimate struggles — struggles which concur with the constitutional provisions of law as a legitimate citizen of the country.”
Almost all of Patwardhan’s documentary films faced censorship by the government, which had to clear them after his protracted battle for them in courts. Bombay: Our City was shown on television after a four-year court case, while Father Son and the Holy War (1995), which was declared in 2004 as one of 50 most memorable international documentaries of all time by DOX, Europe’s leading documentary film magazine, was finally shown on Doordarshan without any cuts only after a 11-year battle, which went all the way to the country’s apex court.
The Central Board for Film refused to certify his next, War and Peace (2002) and wanted as many as 21 cuts. When Patwardhan moved court, the film was banned for over a year. Though the courts ruled in his favour, Doordarshan again played spoilsport till the courts pushed for its screening.
Patwardhan said he hopes the award from the government changes this. “I am not talking of only my work. Why should anyone who raises questions about grass-roots issues face censorship?” he asked.