It is perhaps the most unlikely Twitter hashtag ever, but #sanskariJamesBond was rocking the social media platform on Tuesday after news broke that the Central Board for Film Certification (aka, the censors) had cut kissing scenes in the latest Bond film Spectre by “50 per cent.” Never would Ian Fleming have imagined that his globetrotting super spy, given to gadgets, guns and girls would have to conform to Indian traditional values; but then he could not have contended with conservative Indian censors. It was not exactly known if the Censor Board measured the exact length of the kisses and why they reduced them by this precise ratio.
Lengthy kissing was not Indian, the censors said and the Twitterati, ever ready to pounce on the ridiculous, leapt in with possible ideas for what a Sanskari (traditional) James Bond would do. This involves praying to sundry idols and lighting up agarbatti and touching the feet of elders. Of course, India’s superior, millennia-old achievements too were invoked.
‘M’, the legendary boss of the intelligence service, becomes Maa, without whose ‘aashirwad’ no self-respecting Indian son would take any important decision.
The censors’ snipping comes days after the screening of a short film hailing Narendra Modi made by the chief of the CBFC, Pahlaj Nihalani, which was shown before the Salman Khan starrer Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo. Nihalani also plans to make a film about the long strike of the students of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), whom he called “anti-national.”
Fears have been expressed that Nihalani’s regime will apply conservative cultural standards to films — the reduction of kissing scenes in the James Bond film seems to confirm those apprehensions.