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Chennai: The Madras high court upheld an order of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refusing to grant certificate for public exhibition to the Tamil film Porkalathil Oru Poo, portraying the life of Isai Priya, a journalist in Sri Lanka, who was allegedly subjected to inhuman treatment and was gang raped and killed by the Sri Lankan Army in 2009.

Dismissing a petition from K. Ganeshan, director of the film, Justice T.S. Sivagnanam said, “The multiple tiers of authorities, who have viewed the film and heard the petitioner, recorded a definite conclusion that there are derogatory references against the Sri Lankan Army and the Army men are depicted in poor light in the film, which would strain the relationship between the two countries.

The film deals with sensitive issue of bifurcation of Sri Lanka and the film, having been judged from the point of view of its overall impact and the period depicted and the contemporary standards of a country and the people to which the film relates, held that it is not fit for public viewing. It is further recorded that the film depicts prolonged gang rape of the heroine by Sri Lankan Army men for over 20 minutes the scenes definitely defy public order, decency, morality etc.”.

Allowing the applications from Sri Lankan refugees Vetharanjani and Dharmini Vahisan, mother and sister respectively of Isai Priya now residing in United Kingdom, the judge also restrained Ganeshan and producer A.C. Gurunath Chelasami, from releasing the film without their consent.

The judge said the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which subsequently confirmed the order of CBFC,  was of the view that the film being replete with violence, it depicts the freedom struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam by LTTE terrorist outfit and on review, after giving opportunity to the director, it was still found to be replete with terrorism, violence, sexual perversions and degradation of woman, which reflect adversely on the Sri Lankan administration and their Army and therefore, likely to affect the friendly relationship with India and Sri Lanka, apart from violating the guidelines framed under section 58 of the Cinematograph Act, the judge added.

The judge said the film pertains to a life of a person whose family were the plaintiffs and it was stated that there was direct reference to Isai Priya and her family members etc.

This has not been denied by the petitioner, but raises a faint plea that he was willing to delete those scenes. But, what appears from the stand taken by the parties in the case was that the very foundation or the basis of the movie pertains to the daughter of Vetharanjani and the film concerns her family, motherhood, child etc., and it would be irrelevant to consider whether it was truthful or otherwise or whether the attempt of the petitioner was laudatory. By doing so, the petitioner has violated the Right to Privacy of the character depicted in the film and her family members, the judge added. (Deccan Chronicle)