Chennai Spy

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Release of Imsai Arasan 23... stalled

Director Shankar’s much awaited historical film Imsai Arasan 23rd Pulikesi which was to be released on May 19 has not been cleared by the Regional Censor Board.

The reason cited is that the producer has used several horses and other animals in the film without obtaining prior permission from the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI).

The film directed by debutant Simbhudevan has war scenes with hero Vadivelu where horses have been used. According to the 2001 guidelines and its subsequent amendment in 2002 set by the AWBI, the use of certain animals and birds are prohibited in films.

The producers of any film which uses such animals and birds should apply for permission with the board one month before shooting starts. A veterinary doctor should also be present on the sets while shooting with animals to make sure they are not ill-treated.

Now the Censor Board wants Shankar to get the NOC from the AWBI to release the film. But the AWBI have not taken any steps inspite of a court order to release the certificate and has passed the issue over to the Ministry of Environment and Forests under whom the AWBI functions. Speaking to this newspaper Dr. Balasubramanian, Secretary to the AWBI, Chennai said, “Shankar as a producer, should have applied for permission with the details of animals being used in the film one month prior to the commencement of shooting. All the set rules are made available with the Producers Council in a printed format.

I am surprised a big director like Shankar was not aware of this. Now we have referred the film to Government of India and are awaiting a reply from them,” However, considering the amount of money invested in such productions, the board has given permission to such cases after obtaining a letter from the concerned producer stating they would not repeat such mistakes in future. “We also allow certain background shots and stock shots with animals without any questions being raised,” he added.

When it was pointed out that close to 63 films with big investments have been blocked all over India because this particular problem, Dr Balasubramanian pointed out that it was not the money involved, but the producers’ attitude that mattered. “We expect them to be a little considerate towards animals,” he said.

He also suggested that there should be a few animal activists on the Censor Board panel with whom the producers can interact before the shooting commences as that would solve the problem to a certain extent.

With the existing conditions the release of Imsai Arasan…. has been postponed indefinitely.

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