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If you remember our earlier appreciative publishing of the indie film Inklab and the interview with Dr. Gaurav Chhabra that followed, we are glad to share that the film was widely appreciated. But once it came to the "real world", it ran into trouble - specifically, trouble with our nitpicking, politically meddling censor board. A censor board that sees nothing in passing item numbers even while evidence of objectification of women in real life is leading to increasing sexual crimes against them. But God forbid an enactment of documented historical facts about national heroes is actually seen by the people without censoring to taste.

Disclosure: Dr. Gaurav Chhabra is a friend and a person I respect for consistently challenging wrongs where he sees them.

Read on:

What came as a rude shock to Chandigarh based director Dr Gaurav Chhabra, the producer of the film InkLab, who was packing his bags for Goa, to attend International Film Festival of India (IFFI) was the letter from Central board of Film Certification India, suggesting at-least 9 cuts in the film thus destroying the whole structure and message of the film InkLab, which is inspired by Shaheed Bhagat Singh's Assembly Bombing case of 1929.

What disturbs him more is that, CBFC has right away kicked out the film from the 'Educational category'. " Film is a direct result of my personal learning in the field of social-activism over last 5 years...and it advocates the use Constitutional tools like Right to information, Freedom of speech, peaceful protests etc for bringing about a holistic social change in society " says the 32 year old doctor turned indie filmmaker and activist.

Chhabra applied for Censor certificate for his film InkLab after some of the film festivals in the country where the film is  an official selection, asked for it as a routine. Chhabra who is already promoting his film as ‘For mature audience only’ straightaway demanded for Adults certificate in his application to CBFC. “The film documents the casual talks of two university students on corruption and other prevalent issues of today in a natural flow…and at places there is use of strong language and symbolism, so I myself responsibly opted for Adult certification… but unfortunately even that is denied”

This hour long Avant-garde film made in Cinema-Verite style, produced in Chandigarh in March this year, is a story of a young rebellious PhD fellow who has gone missing and police is investigating the case with the help of his close friend and professors. The film is shown as if been put together from the footage of video and mobile camera of this friend.

The film incidentally is shot at the Historic Dwaarka Das Library in Chandigarh, which is post-partition restoration of the library at Lahore where Shaheed Bhagat Singh used to spend a lot of time reading books on Russian, Irish revolutions and socialism.

Confronting the cuts prescribed by the CBFC and calling them uncalled for and invalid, the Doc says " The cuts prescribed by the CBFC chop off selectively the talks about corruption in politics. These talks represent average discussions on contemporary news, among today’s youth. Chopping such scenes is only in the interest of ‘corrupt politicians’ and not in interest of ‘Politics’ and public in general "

As the story unfolds the film primarily touches the topics of:  Corruption, Right to Information Act, Social equality, Debate on nuclear power, Debate on Genetically Modified food, Development issues, Freedom of Speech, Naxalism, Role of Independent media in society. Film also bring forth the core idea of Social equality as envisioned by Shaheed  Bhagat  Singh and educates the audience about the reason behind Assembly bombing case of 1929 and how ‘Long live revolution’doesn’t mean constant turbulence  in the society but rather a just and peaceful society.

The film focuses on the fact that today even if youth are fighting for ‘their rights’ all around the world, the marginalized groups are still neglected by them and voice of poor is still oppressed. But however even after 80 years of the Martyrdom of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, his idea of Freedom and social-economic equality is being suppressed.

CBFC has asked to chop off the scene where the protagonist is trying to make homemade fire-works/non-lethal bombs in his kitchen and then trying it at his room.

"CBFC grossly missed the historical context of the film, where protagonist talks about Bhagat Singh’s Assembly bomb case. The protagonist being a rational, inquisitive and  scientific person tries for himself everything before he actually decides to apply it or not. Explosives made by Bhagat Singh were home made too and this film simply reflects the same thing via the protagonist. There are thousand plus recipes to make bombs on Internet, just in case they are worried that this film teaches public about making bombs. Until the reason behind the Assembly bombing of 1929 is shown, any uninformed person would call the valiant act of Freedom fighters a violent act. “ tells the director doc who in in last five years has bagged various national and international awards for his short films and social activism.

In 1929, Shaheed Bhagat Singh, a young Indian Freedom fighter and a contemporary of a better-known figure Mahatma Gandhi, threw non-lethal bombs in Central Legislative assembly to protest against the draconian laws being passed by the British Govt. He was arrested and later executed at the young age of 23.

“ The name InkLab stands for Lab of Ink.. lab of thoughts.. and means that one should not just apply any ideology which has been passed on to him just because it has been existing and is prevalent. Film tells that one should experiments with the ideas before one actually applies them in social life. To doubt, to question is a scientific approach .. and this film is about having a scientific and sensitive approach to the theme of Revolution and social” says Chhabra, who has refused to take any cuts for his film and will stand by the Director’s cut alone.

Dr Chhabra's earlier earlier films have won awards at W.H.O.'s Global Health film award in 2007 in Switzerland, Green Apple Award 2010 for Environment films in U.S.A , We care Film Festival, Delhi among many others. InkLab is submitted to around 3 dozens film festivals across the globe and has been selected in all the three festivals, that have declared the results - International Film Festival of Ahmedabad, IFFI, Goa, and Third Eye Asian Film Festival, Mumbai. The denial of Censor certifications doesn’t seem to deter the spirits of this indie filmmaker who believes in the power of youth and new media and positively believes that the film will find its way to the deserving audience in one way or the other.

"The true test of Freedom of speech in a democracy comes only when someone makes Speech of Freedom..and CBFC has time and again failed in that! Passing vulgar scenes and baseless abuses and violence is definitely not a sign of boldness or Freedom of speech but of misplaced priorities and challenged sensibilities of the board members " signs off the doctor, who has made available the film for free private viewing for mature audience at the official websitewww.inklabmovie.com

The tagline on the film's official website and the posters itself reads: ' In the digital age, where megabyte is the new dynamite and power of ideas & connectivity cannot be ignored, this is an experiment in the Lab of thoughts – Ink Lab. '


Dr. Gaurav Chhabra writes about his experience as a regular citizen of India out on a post dinner stroll. Dr. Gaurav Chhabra is a health activist and filmmaker. Recently he made and released a film about current happenings around corruption called Inklab. Do watch.

After the daily dose of our post dinner ice-cream, me and a dear friend of mine were sitting on the pavement along the market of sector-15 discussing our upcoming ventures and ideas. A police truck passed by . They were shouting out aloud and warning everyone to leave .. and that no one should remain there as its too late ( 11:10 pm) Me and my friend continued our chats and stayed there as our talks were yet not finished.

Fifteen or so minutes after that one Sub inspector named Fateh Singh and a constable came roaming eating ice-cream. The constable approached us and said “ Leave this place now.. its too late” . I said “ How late is too late ?” He replied that don’t quarrel..leave the place.. I replied back.. no we are doing nothing illegal andthere is no law that we are breaking by sitting here. To which he replied that its not about law.. law doesn’t matter.. you should just leave. I refused to do the same. The Sub inspector then came and straight away started conversation in a very uncivilized manner and insisted that we must leave or they shall do that by force . We again refused. He asked what do you do.. and I replied.. the fact that I am a doctor but am unemployed .  When the Sub inspector started talking in a harsh manner and said that we must leave right now else he will use force, I called up at Police control room at 100 and explained the matter.

The officer on other side asked me to pass phone to the SI. I  did same and the SI started telling them that there is some unemployed doctor who is acting insane due to his frustration of unemployment and is fighting for no reason…and that they should not interfere.  I insisted that PCR should come and see into the matter of this harassment by police.

PCR ( CH 01 G1 6207) arrived in ten minutes. The SI talked with the Constable that came. The constable Vikram Singh became very aggressive and said “ That we don’t care of law.. we know the language of beating people.. and don’t explain us law we don’t care of it.. we know how to deal with people.” He also cited some other instance where police uses abuses like maachod and bhenchod against such people if they don’t go. I objected to it and called up at 100 again and told this to police officer there. NOTHING HELPED.

SI called up SHO and SHO told him to bring us to police station and they will ‘see’ us there.  We said we can go there..as we haven’t broken any law and instead they are misbehaving.

After another ten minutes one Inspector arrived, with a team of  ten or so policemen and he started yelling that why when his truck passed by and announced ..we dint leave ?? He investigated about us in deep took us our numbers and address and asked us to go from there right away or else we would be taken to police station and that it shall teach us what ‘ law ‘ is .. !! The SI explained him.. that ‘He is a unemployed doc.. and looks mentally disturbed and hence so is fighting with everyone’..trying to make me look like a fool to everyone.

After that Inspector insisted  that we must leave right now .. or face the musicand also said that he will deal with us tomorrow.

I knew.. if we go to police station they are going to put me in a lock up ..and make fun of the same…also there was no point in sitting there in market with 20 angry policemen on your head…talking to you like as if PUBLIC matters them a least and nor does LAW. Behavior of some of them was worse than any GOON I have seen lately. I  came back…as a worn out common man. I will submit detail of this incident to SSP, I wonder if there would be any outcome. I would call it a harassment, the police would call it ‘ CASE OF AN UNEMPLOYED FRUSTRATED DOCTOR’ .

But I wonder… is this the city.. that has recently been sanctioned umpteen crores of rupees to  promote Night Tourism.. and night life in the city ???  11 pm is too late to sit in market ? Excuse me.. have they seen ahmedabad..? Have they seen Mumbai ?? And as they said they are NOT concerned about law.. that is the reason.. you can be a drunk person driving car at 150 km/hr and they wont stop you..but you cant sit peacefully in market after 11 pm !

With this narrow approach , ill- mannerism and lack of spirit ,  Chandigarh can only promote commercial restricted places of tourism but not a cultured nightlife !!


Update 1: Gaurav shares that he has got a positive response from the police complaint authority. The jury is out there on what would happen if no one had heard of him. Would he still deserve dignity?

Update 2: COMPLAINT submitted personally to POLICE COMPLAINT AUTHORITY in sector 9 chd. Sunwaai is on 13th May! Copy fo complaint



I got the opportunity to interview the filmmaker of the indie film InkLab that was released online yesterday
Watch Film>>

The filmmaker Dr. Gaurav Chhabra happens to be a good friend and a person I admire, so this was a great time to do an interview. I am inexperienced with doing interviews, so .... this is what it is, tidied up from a chat. It isn't edited as such, so its an informal conversation.

Lets do a proper interview Gaurav?
yeh would be fine... bolo jee

Where did you get the idea?
A few mnths ago, I was in Kabir kind of mood... writing short couplets and then the idea came about Potash ke puriya. Remember we used to collect masala from fuss bombs of Diwali? So I visualised a small pouch containing that and everything devloped on that in next few hours. The idea came from Potash ... I wanted to write a couplet on it ... about revolution and rebellious ideas, but idea grew on me within next half hour to take shape of a film outline.

The script? You wrote it?
Yeppo. I do have a similar black diary ... but dialouges of film were all fresh.. this month only

It was produced and directed quite fast
The newspapers have fukushima and all our latest scams... how did you manage it?
Yeah I started research and scripting on march first, started shoot on 20th and edit 3 days back. Zero budget, friends cameras, and frnds as actor for free. Actually if you see, this all is a daily talk these days, on chai shai... So shooting it wasn't a big problem. Though film is mostly scripted.

Among the characters in the film, who do you connect with most strongly?
The film has no characters but ideas. It shows how ideas travel across ages and times and across borders. Even the police guy has REBELLIOUS ideas in this ... so people in the system also want change ..

When you made the film, who did you imagine as the audience?
The film was supposed to be released on 2nd so as to gain viral audience and was supposed to be released as Bomb hoax! But comps are machines and men are not free from errors. The script i thought would make 12 min film came out to be 65.

Which is your favourite part of the film?
The Citizen speech at the end. The toughest part was doing the tea cup breaking scene with the kid
secret would come out in the making of film...

Now, the circumstances planned for the release of the film have changed. Do you see it having an impact on how it is received?
Well no... I mean... now it would be received warmly. Earlier some people could have disliked it. Like i posted a promo of bomb hoax and people said they find it pukish and all. People r not used to hardcore activism... So now 8th april is gone. They r watching it as a film,  which is a cool slice of life out of two room mates. So its more comfy to watch it now. Earlier it would have immensly disturbed many ( intention was that ). But yeah, it will achieve its purpose to go beyond present perspectives of involvement of citizen in democracy.

About the involvement of citizen in democracy..... what do you think is the need of the hour?
To come out of comfort zone and think for comfort of not only your family and self, but people on mass scale.

The film hints at very Bhagat Singhish ideals.... and it is very immediate kind of feeling watching it.
No rebel stands by anything past... but ideas... which will always be fresh if the situation is same. In the whole film
the protagnist is discussing bomb case of past, but it appoears that they are planning to bomb Parliament. As I said, Megabyte is new dynamite... NOW one doesnt need to enter parliament to destroy the wrought

What do you think is the most powerful line in the film?... The message?
' its not about politics.. its about realisation...'
That everything depnds on them... the people. The realisation is missing as of now. In fact if you see [the] film runs on lines only because there are hardly any faces visible.

Okay, here is the real question.... after this warm up

What is the one question you wish I had asked?
Are you happy making such film? do u love the work you do ?
No and No

I mean.. I would have been happy making some happier art works, but situation is society is such that ... I would feel bad if [I] own a capcity to work out such films and I dont... I mean... if things were not like they presently are, I would have been working on different kind of films. But you know.. art is always influenced by politics and vice versa, so I'm kinda Ruined artist. A happy ruined artist.

What would those different films have been? Do you have something in mind?
lol. Yeah I have some beautiful concepts of films... Many commercial business ideas, products designs etc that always loose priority and I end up nourishing these non profit ideas and hence bankrupt.

Yet you chose to release this on the net
This is just a baby. I have its big dad coming ahead in a year or so.

You speak of ideas crossing time and boundaries... what are the ideas that reached you from another time and place to be in this film?
The name of thr film is Ink Lab - an experimental lab, which doesnt borrow ideas, but belives in its own experiments.

... or, which ideas inspired this film?
Those which one tries and applies and learns from them. The protagonist has been trying everything. The film is a kind of warning to govt.

Yeah, revolutionary influences...
That people are much sane
all through as of now. If they supresss peaceful rebellions something dangerous can take birth.

Like the film says, it is in finding the right questions. What question would you leave us with today?
The film highlights the power of books and ideas, but at the same time.. it points that oen shouldn't bind himself in one idea. Also it tells that rebellion or anarchism is dangerous if community is NOT enlightened. So first step has to be enlightenment.

Guess what ... I dont know abcd of politics. I'm not sure about any ideoolgy what it stands for. Whether its communism or imeperialism or any things and many many people dont even care to...

Does it matter?
No it doesnt. Thats the reason. I thought let it not be politically correct film, but correctly political.

The one about what question would you like to leave us with?
Oh the question would be... that do we KNOW that what we see..around us? On FB or TV is just a miniscule percentage of whole population. There is a huge percentage of population who doesnt have voice, even if we have. So there still is fear that the growing upper middle class shall exploit the lower classes. For example, when I posted a status on EQUAL SALARY for all vocations, people were baffled. Never ever as many comments came on any status. People not from my friend list also commented and never have been people in unison... all were agaisnt it!!

It was just an experimental status that showed me that we are in a dangerous situation actually and we see MONEY is the BIGG thing of life...

Haha no more shots

Only bombs

Done. Packup 😀
Non detectable bombs
This film is one such 😛

Thanks a ton for your time, and beautiful, transparent sharing of thoughts
yeppo chalo je I sleep . You too try to sleep now take care , huggs

..... And thus it was.... an encounter with an inspiring revolutionary in the land of ideas!

Dr Gaurav Chhabra is a Chandigarh based Health activist. After pursuing bachelors in Medicine & surgery, from Ahmedabad, he infused his childhood passion for Visual arts into the field of health and thus emerged the practice of Public Health Communications, which he presently is pursuing through his independent non-profit initiative, called Humlog,using video films as a major tool for positive social change on the local issues. Dr Chhabra in last two and a half years, has made the city of Chandigarh his Karmabhoomi and has made niche in the domain of development communications. His films have travelled most of the film festivals in the country. His zero budget Film 'The Mudcake' won 1st prize at WHO Global health film contest -07 leaving behind thousands of entries across the globe.

If you wish I had asked a few things, please don't hate me, ask them below, and I promise to get Gaurav answer them for you.