Raj Amit Kumar’s controversial and bold directorial debut, Unfreedom, starring Adil Hussain and Victor Banerjee, will be released internationally by Netflix, making it one of the boldest Indian films to release on the platform.
Unfreedom is a contemporary thriller based in a society torn apart by political, religious and sexual turmoil. Alternating between New York and New Delhi, the film combines two powerful stories about religious fundamentalism and intolerance.
Raj has also produced the film under the banner of Dark Frames and co-written the screenplay with Damon J Taylor.
Unfreedom was banned by the Censor Board of Film Certification, (CBFC) in 2015 (which was then headed by Pahlaj Nihalani) who maintained that the film will ignite unnatural (homosexual) passions and incite rapes and communal violence in India. “Initially the film was under review by CBFC who wanted the director to cut crucial elements from the film in order to be shown to the Indian public,” says a source. Post which, Raj appealed before Information and Broadcasting Appellate Tribunal, (FCAT). And in response, the FCAT banned the film without any possibility of cutting or further appeals.
Later Kumar and his team ran a campaign for a year during which they did around 100 screenings of the film globally in India and US among other countries. The film was screened to immensely encouraging audience response in cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Los Angeles and New York. Following this, the film was recently released internationally by Netflix.
Talking about the film’s release by Netflix, director Raj Amit Kumar said, “I am glad that Unfreedom finds such a popular platform like Netflix after the ban in India and the efforts of censorship guardians in India to stop the film. It also exposes the hypocrisy and divide between reality and fantasy of censorship system in India. There is no way they can control and censor content in digital age, yet, they try their best to choke filmmakers like me who have something relevant to say that makes them feel threatened.”
Elaborating on the film’s ban by CBFC and it being labeled as one of the boldest Indian films ever, Kumar said, “The boldness of something is always defined by what you are allowed to say or not in a society. The boldness of an artist is always defined by what other artists around him have not said or what they are not allowed to express. Thus, it is not the content in my film per say that makes it bold, but the context of a society in which it is told. It is the fact that we have become such a weak and conservative society where we are asked to shut up all the time. Our voices are crushed unless we are chanting slogans that the powers to be and moral guardians are okay with.”