THIRUVANATHAPURAM: The United Arab Emirates has banned the screening of Kamal-directed ‘Gaddama,’ the first Malayalam film which lifted the purdah off the shocking living conditions of Malayali home nurses working in the Gulf. Censor officials in Abu Dhabi, the capital of UAE, prohibited the screening on the ground that the film showed a Muslim country like Saudi Arabia in poor light.
Following the UAE ban, West Asian nations like Oman, Kuwait and Bahrain, where there is a strong Malayali diaspora, too have blacklisted the film. “The news came as a shock to us. Our producer had already sold the overseas rights of the film,” Kamal told Express.
The overseas rights, according to sources, had fetched nearly a crore, on a par with some of the superstar films. The film, because it dealt with Gulf-related issues, was expected to do business worth at least Rs 1.5 crore, whopping for a small-budget feature like ‘Gaddama’.
Three weeks after the release of ‘Gaddama’ in Kerala, the producers went ahead and applied for the mandatory censor certificate at the Abu Dhabi Media City. “After screening, the censor board officials said the film could not be shown in any of the seven emirates of the UAE as the subject matter was against Saudi Arabia,” Kamal said.
Attempts to get the film released in other Gulf countries with sizeable Malayali expatriates like Kuwait and Oman, too, came to a naught. By the time the producers approached censor board officials in these countries, the ban was already in place in all of them. “Our producer had no choice but to return the overseas rights money,” Kamal said.
Interestingly, over 90 percent of the film which was found objectionable by the UAE authorities was shot in the UAE. “We had to resort to a bit of stealth to get the job done. When we first submitted the English version of the script to the Abu Dhabi Media City seeking permission for shooting, the officials did not find any problems,” Kamal said.
But a week after Kamal began shooting in Dubai, the unit got a fax message from Media City asking them to stop shooting forthwith.