Jawaharlal Nehru University has said that Bollywood actor Anupam Kher's film Buddha in a Traffic Jam could not be screened at the campus owing to the lack of a time slot on the varsity event calender.
Professor of Film Studies at the university, Ira Bhaskar quashed allegations that the film screening had been turned down. "They have not applied to the JNU administration or any student body. So, the question of not allowing the film to screen doesn't actually arise because there is no space in the programme in our school," she said. The professor told news agencies:
"Usually last minute requests can only be accommodated if the faculty approves of it and also if a slot falls free, because somebody has withdrawn from the programme. Since it was not possible, I said it's not possible."
"A girl called Nairita had written an email to me as a member of the faculty at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, saying that the director would like the film to be screened at our school. This email came on 26th February. I was out of Delhi at that time, and therefore, could not check with my faculty members whether it is possible to screen the film at certain short notice."
Bhaskar said that when she returned to Delhi on 7 March, she told Nairita that there was no free slot available for the screening. "I told Nairita on the phone that maybe we can consider it for next semester. But we will have to address that in June -July, when we are preparing the calendar for the next semester. There is no controversy. I agree with Kher that opinion of all kinds should have space in a university campus," she added.
Kher on Friday urged the varsity students to practice 'freedom of speech and expression' for which they have been raising their voices in recent times. He said:
"We are told that for six months there are no slots, maybe they can create a slot. It's only a request.... If a section of JNU students have freedom of speech and expression then we should translate it into a practice for other people to be able to see the film."
Kher said that the film deals with the education system and how the system polarises students.
"I did Buddha in a traffic jam working with Vivek Agnihotri as producer-director. The film deals with education system and how the system sometimes polarises the students and how the system educates students in a certain manner."