NEW DELHI: In its haste not to be seen as having once taken punitive action against Satyajit Ray the Union Government has decided to lift the ban on SikkiSm documentary made by the master film-maker 21 years ago.

All these years the film was banned from being screened in India It was seen as propaganda to bolster the Chogyals rule and damaging to the annexation of Sikkim by India in 1975.

The decision to ban from the then Ministry of External Affairs which in its wisdom had felt i would weaken Indias arguments Justifying the annexation of the Himalayan Kingdom Officials in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry are now loathe to admit that the film was “banned.” “I was not given a certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification” they said.

White it has been decided in principle to allow the screening of the documentary there are hurdles which have to be crossed. The bureaucrats will have to sign relevant files after which a copy has to be procured. Finally the CBFC will have to grant I proval.

The idea of the film germinated sometime in 1970 through an offer made by a cousin of Ray who knew the Chogyals and his American wife. Hope Cook. He told Ray that the Chogyals would allow full freedom and that there would be no interference from the palace.

The short film was completed in 1971. The script commentary and music was by Satyajit Ray and there crew comprised photographer Soumendu Roy and Editor Dulal Dutta

The first seven minutes of the lyrical as the beauty of   a very poetic seven minutes” Ray said in one of the few comments he has made on Sikkim

The cousin’s promise did not prove true because the Chogyal did interfere with the making of the film and what was shorn in it Hope Cook the king’s confidence also had her say.

The final product was not what Ray had set out to make Forty percent of the film was “bureaucratic with statistical information.”

Article extracted from this publication >> May 8, 1996