Tribunal Overturns Censor Board’s TV Ban on ‘Danish Girl’

The CBFC had refused to grant the film a U/UA certificate and cancelled its scheduled telecast, terming the content controversial and unsuitable for children.

CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani. Credit: Facebook/Pahlaj Nihalani

New Delhi: The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) has reversed the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) order on English film The Danish Girl and directed it to grant UA category certification with parental caution for the movie. This will allow the film, which deals with the subject of sex reassignment surgery, to be shown on television.

The CBFC had previously cancelled the scheduled telecast of the Oscar-nominated film on March 26. According to the certification board, the subject of the movie was controversial and unsuitable for children, the Mumbai Mirror reported.

The report quoted a CBFC member as saying, “The whole subject is controversial, and it’s unsuitable to be viewed by children. It talks about a man who wants a sex change and has a genital operation to become a woman. The subject is sensitive and how do you edit a subject like that?”

The CBFC gave the film an ‘A’ certificate, but refused to provide the ‘U/UA’ certificate that is required for television screening. Sony Pictures had offered 14 voluntary cuts in the scenes and dialogues in order to make the film eligible for the certification, but the CBFC refused to clear it.

The FCAT, which is headed by Justice Manmohan Sarin, reversed the CBFC’s decision, quoting a Supreme Court judgement that granted recognition of gender identity as the ‘their gender’ to the transgender community.

It felt that it was unfair to curtail a film discussing these issues only on the grounds that it is a complex subject, as observed by the CBFC in its refusal to allow the film to be shown on TV.

Credit: Wikipedia

The 2015 Tom Hooper-directed biographical romantic drama is based on a fictional novel of the same name, loosely based on the lives of Danish painters Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener. Eddie Redmayne stars in the film as Lili Elbe, one of the first known recipients of sex reassignment surgery.

According to the FCAT, the film portrays “The travails and sufferings of the husband who struggles to find his own identity, believing that he should be a woman.  His wife empathises with him and supports him, remaining by his bed side all through during his sex reassignment surgery in the 18th century”.

The FCAT also said “There is nothing in the film that is vulgar, obscene or of depravity of the women or which denigrates them. The film judged in terms of guidelines (for certification of films for public exhibition) is an excellent depiction of the problems of the transgenders and their struggle for adjustments in life.  It cannot be said to be violative of the guidelines.”

The FCAT has only recently advised the CBFC not to “summarily reject” certifying a film if it is “capable of receiving certification with certain cuts, deletions, modifications or additions”.

The CBFC has repeatedly denied certification to films on multiple grounds. It refused to certify as many as 77 films in 2015-16, up 64% from the previous year. Earlier this year, its refusal to grant Prakash Jha’s Lipstick Under My Burkha a certificate for being “lady oriented and full of abusive words and audio pornography” had created a huge controversy