‘Caste on the Menu’, by students of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, was to be screened on Saturday at the Jeevika Asia Livelihood Film Festival 2015. The festival organizers were informed by the information and broadcasting ministry that the film had not been cleared on Thursday. This was the only one of 35 films not cleared.
In an embarrassment to the ministry, the film has won an award for best student documentary, which it shared with another film. It also won the Jeevika Freedom Award, one that has been awarded twice in 12 years.
“The jury members had decided on the awards before we could imagine that the I&B ministry would withhold screening of the film. They were given the freedom award due to the manner in which they highlighted serious policy issues and the way caste plays out in food habits. The last Freedom Award was given in 2009. The award is given to films that can help effect policy change. Documentaries are meant to generate debate. The film explores the disastrous repercussions of Maharashtra’s law on beef and its impact on livelihoods,” festival director Manoj Mathew said.
Mathew had requested ministry officials to watch the film before drawing conclusions when they did not screen the film based on its synopsis. He did not receive a response.