The narrative of Indian film censorship is slowly changing. It is no longer just for big releases, but also indies, documentaries and shorts, and the film festivals that screen them.
For years, the CBFC has been going far beyond its jurisdiction, acting as a so-called guardian of our morality and worldview.
Sources said the Central Board of Film Certification chief told the panel that a decision on the film would be taken after showing it to experts.
“I am not making comfortable films, I am raising issues that affect the lives of millions of people.”
Viacom 18, the makers of the film, had earlier said that they have deferred the movie’s release which was originally scheduled on December 1.
The actor criticised the government for not condemning those making open threats of violence.
Nihalani, whose tenure was set to finish next January, will be replaced by well-known lyricist Prasoon Joshi.
The Censor Board in Kolkata has stalled the release of a documentary on the Nobel laureate because the director has refused to beep out Sen saying ‘Gujarat’, ‘cow’, ‘Hindu India’ or ‘Hindutva view of India’.
CBFC has asked Bengali filmmaker Anik Dutta to beep the words ‘Ramrajya’, ‘bandh’ and ‘penis’ from his latest thriller Meghnad Badh Rahasya.
Indian censors are far more liberal than in many other countries, says the controversial censor board chief.
“We’ve granted a ‘UA’ to the trailer of Jab Harry Met Sejal on condition of deletion of the dialogue about intercourse”, said censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani.
The documentary on the student’s suicide was denied a ‘certificate of exemption’ by the information and broadcasting ministry.
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.
‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ follows the lives of four women with sartorial, professional, spousal and sexual desires in small-town Bhopal.
The film certification guidelines are abstract, vague and imprecise, leading to rampant erratic and subjective interpretations of scenes/language in a film amounting to unfair curtailment of the filmmakers’ freedom of expression.
The provisions of these laws, Amol Palekar has said, have not been questioned in the last 47 years and have failed to keep up with the times.
The CBFC has denied the film a certificate for “glorifying” homosexual relationships, “vulgarity”, depicting Hinduism in a “derogatory” fashion and for depicting a Muslim woman masturbating.
Pahlaj Nihalani, with his love for the Modi government and its agenda, has chosen to take the ultra-conservative view in banning this film.
The attacks on creative expression and freedom of speech concern us all. Today it is films and books; tomorrow it could be journalism and much more.
India chronically suffers from censorship controversies with films being subject to the mercy of the CBFC.
The film was denied certification because it has “sensitive gay scenes, use of derogatory words against women and vulgar dialogues”.
Judges should limit their scrutiny to questions of legal interpretation, procedural infractions and the confines of the constitution, and not wade into the territory of moral or artistic judgement.
The court has also ordered that a special panel watch the film on June 14, and submit a report on whether it is fit for public viewing on June 16.
The court, which was hearing a petition filed by Anurag Kashyap’s Phantom Films challenging the CBFC order, strongly criticised the board for curbing a creative person’s work.
The weakest link in any fight with the censor board has always been the film industry, says the former chair. It must unite to fight for the rights of filmmakers now and in the future.
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