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|September 8, 2001||
'Maya will not be cut'
Arthur J Pais in Toronto
Digvijay Singh's film, Maya, which uncovers the tale of sexual abuse of young girls in the name of religion, faces opposition from the Indian censors.
But the filmmaker swears he will not make a single cut. He's prepared to approach the Supreme Court, if need be. But he doesn't want to go down that path. "If the court intervenes, people may want to see it because of the wrong reasons," he said.
Singh was addressing an audience at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2001.
Singh answered questions from the audiences after the first public screening of the film at the Royal Ontario Museum. The film received over three minutes of applause.
The festival opened on September 6 and has screened acclaimed films including Baran from Iran that recently won the top accolade at the Montreal Film Festival.
Maya was also shown at the Montreal film fest. Its rights are sold in Canada, the Netherlands, and several countries.
The response in Montreal has been overwhelming. "Beautifully shot and beautifully directed," said the Toronto Star, a leading publication. The Globe and Mail also ran a lengthy interview with Singh, under the headline: 'Focussing on India's Shame.'
Singh, 28, gave up working for television in India to study film production at UCLA where he met Emmanuel Pappas, one of the producers of Maya.
"Each years hundreds of young girls are forced into sexual slavery and exploitation," the director said. Singh also made several copies of the notes on his research to distribute to critics.
Replying to questions regarding the Water (a Deepa Mehta film) controversy, he said that Mehta's project received too much of publicity. "Maya was shot without much publicity", he later told rediff.com. "We never spoke about the film's subject, and we canned the shots in a few days,"
Singh said though sexual exploitation was confined mainly to the lower castes, he had intentionally set the story in a middle class family. "When it comes to sexual exploitation, especially of children, there seems to be no distinction between upper and lower castes," he said bristling.
Although the film was set in Andhra Pradesh, the characters speak Hindi because the director felt that his would lend the film a wider appeal.
Singh wants Maya to make the audiences in the West reflect on child exploitation in their own countries.
He hopes at least a few people will be jolted out of their own comfort zone instead of dismissing the film as something that only happens in some poor Third World country.
"Child abuse isn't India's shame alone," he declares as his ponytail bobs animatedly.
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