Satyajit Ray's historic documentary Sikkim had its screening cancelled on Thursday at the Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) after being banned by a court order citing violation of copyright laws.
A District Judge ordered the stay on a petition by Atul Kaura, secretary of Art & Culture Trust of Sikkim, an NGO supposedly working for the preservation of ethnic Sikkimese art and culture.
The film cannot be screened without our permission when the copyright is with us. Even the censor certificates are with us, where we have been credited as the producers of the film, Ugyen Chopel, managing trustee of the body, said.
Claiming exclusive possession of a sole 35 mm print and two DVD versions of the film, he alleged that the film festival authorities were showing a pirated version of the documentary.
We have cancelled all the screenings as of now. But we will challenge the decision in the court, KFF director Nilanjan Chatterjee said.
The 52-minute documentary, commissioned by the last Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, has remained shrouded in controversy ever since it was made by the Oscar winning director in 1971. The Chogyals first banned the film after a few scenes
went against their liking. When the Himalayan kingdom merged with India in 1975, the Indian government also banned it.
In 2000, the copyright of the film was transferred to the Art and Culture Trust of Sikkim. A damaged print of the film was restored by the Ganktok-based trust in 2002 with the support of The Academy of Motion Pictures, Art and Science in California.