Filmmaker Sanal Kumar Sasidharan’s controversial Malayalam film S Durga, originally titled Sexy Durga, will finally release in Kerala on 23 March. The film, which the I&B Ministry successfully stopped from being screened at the International Film Festival of India 2017, after trying every trick in the book, is hitting screens thanks to a very special initiative by film societies and cinema lovers in the state, which the director calls ‘People’s Distribution of Cinema’. S Durga will be opening in 40 theatres across Kerala via ‘cinema vandi’ (cinema vehicle), an idea started by Sanal himself to screen his first film Oraalppokkam.
This is how ‘cinema vandi’ and the ‘People’s Distribution of Cinema’ works - art film enthusiasts and film societies are asked to gather 100 people in their area who are interested watching a certain film, and if the magic number is hit upon, a screening of the film would be organised at the local theatre in the area.
“We have 40 theatres fixed to screen S Durga now, it has become a great movement, it is really a success of the people who really wish to watch this film,” says Sanal Sasidharan talking to The Quint.
List of Theatres In Kerala Where S Durga Will Be Screened
Sanal did try to release S Durga the traditional way, but he says none of the local distributors he approached were ready to pick his film up. “I approached a lot of people, but nobody is keen to release a film which is controversial, they fear that it will face a lot of problems. Also, distributors are not confident that the film will do well, they feel people may not turn up to watch it.”
The team of S Durga is currently busy publicising its release. There are of course no billboards or TV spots for this small budget indie. Instead, it is back to basics - members of the S Durga team are walking around in their local areas carrying a poster of the film and beating a drum or performing an impromptu skit to attract the attention of the public and informing them about S Durga’s release.
You can watch them in action here:
S Durga’s male lead Kannan Nayar is going around pasting posters of the film on walls besides publicising his film by distributing pamphlets about S Durga at colleges, buses and other public areas.
Renowned filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan has been backing S Durga from the very start. The multiple national award winning director kicked off the team’s efforts to bring together film societies to distribute and release S Durga in Kerala.
“Adoor sir inaugurated the ‘cinema vandi’ concept, he came to know about me after watching my first film Oraalppokkam, he liked it. He gave me some advice, he was always like a mentor to me. In his younger age, he too initiated film societies and this sort of movements,” explains Sanal.
Sanal is also working on a plan to release S Durga across the rest of India. “Yash Nag is on board, he will be releasing S Durga across the rest of the country, perhaps by the first week of April,” says Sanal.
And does he expect any trouble considering the controversial ride so far? “Anything and everything can happen in today’s time, any one person can come up and say - ‘I am against this film, and it is offending my religious sentiments’ and this government will also support him. If anyone stands up and says I’m offended then the government will also be offended,” ends Sanal with a laugh.
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