English: Photograph of Shyam Benegal in his of...

Image via Wikipedia

PTI New Delhi: Renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal has pulled out of a jury panel that was to judge a creative film competition organised by mining group Vedanta, as part of its media campaign, apparently aimed at improving its image. Benegal confirmed his resignation from the jury of the ‘Creating Happiness Film Competition’ but refused to give reasons. “Yes, I have pulled out (of the jury),” he told PTI. “I rather will not comment on this (reasons for the pullout).”

The Dadasaheb Phalke awardee’s association with a group with alleged poor trackrecord had been criticised on social networking sites. Vedanta Group spokesperson did not reply to requests made for comments on the development. Billionaire Anil Agarwal-led Vendanta Resources had invited students from across the country to make shortfilms showcasing its initiatives to sustainable development towards the society through a platform, ‘Creating Happiness Film Competition’. The films were to be judged in two categories – popular choice and jury award. Advertising Personality Piyush Pandey and actress Gul Panang were the other members of the jury.

Pandey, too, has been criticised for his involvement but he continues to be on the jury. Unconfirmed reports said Panang, too, may have pulled out of the jury. No independent confirmation of her move could, however, be ascertained. Panang could not be reached for comments

. However, sources close to the development said Vedanta’s alleged tarnished image, particularly after the Niyamgiri Hills issue in Orissa, may have prompted Benegal to pull out of the panel. The metal and mining major has also in the past received severe criticism from social activists for damaging the tribal habitats and environment at Niyamgiri Hills in Orissa. A land grabbing charge was also labelled against it. Vedanta Resources, having interests in non-ferrous metals and iron ore, had earlier invited film students across the country to find their own ‘Binno’ from 550 villages where the company has presence and make films that will tell ‘real stories’.

As many as 38 films have been made by 114 students from 21 colleges. Vedanta had uploaded all films on its official YouTube channel. The three-month voting period for judging the best under the popular choice category will end on March 20.