Onir on Defence Ministry Rejecting His Film Based on Gay Army Officer: ‘No Disrespect to Armed Forces’
Filmmaker Onir had sent his script to the Ministry of Defence to obtain the NOC as per the new guidelines. However, he received a rejection last week. All he wants is a dialogue now. Read on.
Mumbai: Filmmaker Onir’s new film, titled We Are – a sequel to his National-winning film I Am (2010) – has been rejected by the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The script of the film was sent to the ministry as per the latest guidelines by the government, however, the script of his short film was rejected last week. The story of the film is reportedly based on retired Major J Suresh who left the service after coming out as queer. Onir spoke to Mid-Day in his latest interview about the rejection and how despite all the hurdles, he aims to make the film, with our without permission.
The director said the film doesn’t disrespect the armed forces but shows the life of an officer who was unable to defend himself against the objections after he came out. However, he hopes for a dialogue to be made. Onir said he wants to defend his story and his intention behind making the film and that can’t happen in the absence of a dialogue which is a prerequisite to democracy. Speaking to the daily, he said, “The film will be made. There is no disrespect to the Armed Forces here at all. I want to emphasise that 56 countries in the world recognise the LGBTQiA+ community [as part of their army].”
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As per a new mandate released by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the production houses and filmmakers are required to obtain a no Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Defence ministry if they are making a film, documentary, web series or any show related to the Indian army. The MoD had written to the CBFC in July 2021 following the incident in which a series produced by Ekta Kapoor allegedly insulted the armed forces. In December last year, Onir sent his short film to the ministry and it was last week that he received information mentioning that his script has ‘not been cleared.’
Insisting that he has the right to start a conversation with the ministry before taking any solid measure like seeking court’s involvement, Onir told the daily, “Right at the beginning, I had requested a face-to-face meeting. I have not been given that yet. If something is being ‘rejected’, it has to be discussed at length. I can’t just be told it’s illegal. I am retelling the story that’s inspired from a real-life [episode], and the information is all in the public domain.”
He added that simply rejecting and not encouraging a dialogue with the filmmaker wouldn’t be ‘respectful’ on the ministry’s part. “I don’t want to go straight away to court. That is jumping into an aggressive mode without trying dialogue again. I want to re-appeal because I believe the ministry needs to reconsider the matter. If that doesn’t happen, I don’t know if I have the resources as an independent filmmaker to fight a long-drawn legal battle,” he said.
Onir says he would still tell his story using other platforms but it wouldn’t give out a good message to the audience.
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