Chhatrapal Ninawe, an independent filmmaker for over a decade, got his first big break when Jio Studios agreed to fund his Marathi film, rescue. A thriller centered around tribes, Naxalites, and cops, the film had another producer, Drishyam Films.
Ninawe finished filming in March 2019. After 20 months, she was shortlisted for the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) ‘Work-In-Progress Lab’ and won Prasad Lab DI and Moviebuff Awards. On January 21, 2021, Nineveh discovered that rescue It was selected for its premiere in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival.
He was ecstatic, however, and his excitement lasted for 13 short days.
in february 4, 2021, Manish Mundra, founder of Dreamsham Films, contacted Beninawi to inform him that Jio Studios had sent a festival restraining order, preventing the film’s premiere. The studio did not contact Nineveh.
He tried to talk to them – he was ready to make changes, if He knew what he had to change. no answer.
rescue The premiere at the Berlinale did not take place. Ninawi was desperate to find out why his film was not shown. Keep calling Jio Studios, and try for 15 months. no answer.
A few days ago, he wrote a long post on Facebook. “I was deeply depressed and could not even afford treatment,” the letter read. “My career is on the line. Movies are said to be the birthplace of filmmakers. How can I maintain my sanity when my child is murdered?”
I spoke to Ninoy to find out more. Edited excerpts from our follow-up conversation.
What made you write a Facebook post about the “sinking” of Jio Studios rescue?
My last contact with Jio Studios was in November 2019 when an executive saw an almost outage [of Ghaath] He made my notes which I incorporated. They communicate with Drescheam and I communicate with Drescheam.
In 2021, when the Berlinale event took place, I wrote to Jyoti [Deshpande], of Jio Studios, who said after the first narration, “This is not a political movie – it’s a festival movie”]but I got no response. After that, I depended on Dresham because I at least thought we could direct the movie.
A month ago, I wrote to Jio—to Jyoti and all the others whose email IDs I have—and to Drishyam, saying, “I don’t have a choice. I have to go into the audience and scream because I can’t handle it anymore. Do something. I’m asking you to shoot the movie.” .what you did is wrong.
Drechiam started communicating with me again. I got a ‘We’re trying. They’re responding. They’re not responding. They’re coming together. Now they’re not coming together’ kind of response.
Finally, I told them I was going to show this to the public. In fact, I waited two more days.
As of today, as of November 2019, there has been no communication from any Jio Studios executive. I do not have a direct contract with Jio Studios. I signed up for one with Drishyam Films, so maybe that’s why they didn’t talk to me.
What feedback did your Jio Studios CEO give you in November 2019?
qualitative. The CEO was very happy and excited about the movie. I was pleasantly surprised that it turned out to be very good. She didn’t say anything about the controversial movie or that it might cause some problems – nothing like that.
All the creative comments, like “Because of the non-linear structure, the audience may have a hard time understanding; can you make it simple? Can you put timestamps?”
When I told them I was going to be going public, Drescheam sent me a legal notice a few days ago, which Jio Studios sent to Berlinale. He said I offended some sects; that I have mistreated certain tribes; that I have offended government officers; That movie is blasphemy. I can say with confidence that I was very sensitive about it. There is no tribe name in my movie. nothing mandirno Bhagwan in my movie.
There are profanity, 12 or 13 of them, which I don’t think are that important. I mean, swear words are in thousands of movies. It is an adult movie. And I can mute them because it doesn’t interest me creatively. A police officer is a drunk but drunken police officers are in many movies. This proves that whoever wrote the legal notice did not see the film.
What do you think made them change their minds, especially since you kept them updated on every step of the process, from script to pre-production to the final clip?
This is just a guess, because they did not contact me. But the CEO who saw [rough] Pieces, and the executives (or team) who decided this was a problematic movie are different. aAt some point, the team changed. This was told to me by the people of Dresheim.
Second, on January 21, 2021, I received an invitation from the Berlinale. The next day, we won an NFDC Lab award. The mentors in the lab – all aliens – wrote a quote: “It’s a game of cat and mouse”; “It’s a balanced film… that expresses violence on both sides.” The line that I think created the problem is that “this film is a cultural and political study from an individual’s perspective”.
I think the team suddenly found something and had an unusual reaction. But if they had read the entire narrative, they would have found it to be a well-balanced movie. I am a liberal broker. My movie is a thriller if you see this you will laugh and see how far these guys can go. And if you ever have to extend the subtext, it is this: that the tribe gets kicked from both sides.
After we won the award, I got a message from Drishyam Films that Jio Studios wanted to see the movie. I sent them the latest pieces. Then this thing happened.
In your Facebook post, you wrote, “I believe this is an attempt to stifle the voice of a tribal filmmaker on national and international platforms.” Given that the movie is about “tribal rights” and “minority rights”, can you elaborate?
The main characters, except for the police officer, are from the tribes. I tried to choose as many tribes as possible to make it original. Of course, I didn’t choose them just because of their identities; They were good actors. Over 90% of the characters are either Dalits or Tribes.
I am also before me, but more than me, this is the context of the story; The actors; Filming locations The crew, the people who served the food on the set, worked on it, and they are from the tribes. In this sense, the identity of the film is tribal. Is this the reason why they were prevented from doing so? I don’t know. I showed them everything in a pre-production meeting.
People are misunderstood [my post]Saying “You are using the tribal card”. But I don’t brag about my identity. A lot of people didn’t even know my background, including Jio Studios and Drishyam Films.
Last year, another movie produced by Jio Studios and Drishyam Films, hurtAnd It faced oversight problems when India’s Unique Identification Authority (UIDAI) imposed 28 cuts on it. The Censorship Board didn’t have a role to play there – like your movie. Earlier this year, the Indian Army denied submitting a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for a scenario Onerinspired by the true story of a gay pioneer.
Do you think we’re entering a new phase of film censorship where different types of “super censorship” – whether it’s UIDAI, the military, or, oddly enough in your case, the production house itself – are preventing films from being released?
I totally agree. Everything that happened to my movie or other is a clear indication of what you’re saying. Tomorrow, the police department can start objecting, saying you can’t show a police officer in a bad light. Apart from this, what usually happens is: “Oh, you have offended our class or our society”; Or someone could say you shouldn’t put up nicknames because they reveal class identities. This is a silly thing. Anything can happen. My film represents a clear case of corporate censorship.
What is your plan for action?
I wasn’t expecting much, but I’m so glad I got a lot of support from different angles, different film industries. I have to say this, though; I did not get Which support from Marathi Film industry. Not a single phone call.
I am exploring my options. No plan yet, but I’m looking into some legal options. But again, to be very practical, fighting against a huge company like Jio, who has access to the best legal minds in the country, will be quite a challenge for me, who has no more than Rs 10,000 in his bank account. I’m looking forward to some free charitable options because otherwise, it would be a very expensive and time consuming process.
I hope that with pressure from social media and print, Jio Studios will realize their mistake. Or maybe they will try to fix the problem. I will try to contact [directors’] Association to take it as a copyright issue. Although I hate it, I will try to get close to the politicians. I will do everything in my power to direct my film.