Sexy Durga and the Censorship Siege of Regional Cinema

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Sexy Durga and the Censorship Siege of Regional Cinema

Illustration: Sushant Ahire

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ince 1957, a total of 17 regional films from across the country have gone to the Oscars as India’s entries for Best Foreign Film. Compared to their glitzy Hindi counterparts, the number might seem minuscule, but in a climate where regional filmmakers continually struggle against inexcusably low funds, lack of distributors, and audience’s dismally low attention spans, the number is no mean feat. Year after year, these films continue to quietly wend their way around international film festivals, notching up awards and standing ovations, and widening their global reach. Even though back home, we can’t seem to find a reason to celebrate them.

Films like Thithi (Kannada), Court (Marathi), Asha Jaoar Majhe (Bengali), Chauthi Koot (Punjabi), and Sairat (Marathi) are all products of regional filmmakers breaking boundaries and experimenting with stories. These are films that are well-acted, brave, and refreshingly original. In 2017, a host of regional films have risen head and shoulders above their forgettable Bollywood counterparts. From Lijo Jose’s inventive Malayali Angamaly Diaries, Kenny Basumatary’s Assamese comedy, Local Kung Fu, to Rajesh Mapuskar’s Marathi Ventilator, this year has been as rewarding for regional films as it has been dismal for the Hindi film industry chock-full of Half Girlfriends and Jab Harry Met Sejals.

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