When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say-
The above quote by George RR Martin completely sums up the plight and worry the Hindi filmmakers are grappling with, since time immemorial. Reason? It is just a six letter word-CENSOR.
India’s Censor Board of Film Certification has refused to certify Alankrita Shrivastava’s award-winning female-empowerment drama, Lipstick Under My Burkha, for a theatrical supposed to release. The reason seems too bizarre and archaic to be justified.
The question that arises is that should the voices of the filmmakers in the country be suppressed by a body of mere 25 people. Are the directors supposed to bow in front of the CBFC after making a film? The answer is simple-NO.
The indulgences of the CBFC have only quadrupled over the last few years. So much so that the full form of the term mentioned above should be changed to Claustrophobic Board of Fidgety Chamchaas.
Claustrophobic because they believe in living in a shell, refusing to realize that India has been gifted with incredible filmmakers and actors and suppressing their voice is ultimately taking away their freedom of speech and expression, guaranteed by the Constitution of India. Fidgety because they get very restless and uneasy when someone raises a voice against his or her archaic and unacceptable laws. For instance, asking the makers of UDTA PUNJAB to remove the word PUNJAB from the title was not only unacceptable but also laughably silly. Last but not the least, Chamchaasbecause all the members of the board function only as per the fancies of the current political party in power, the BJP.
However, the man who has sealed his lips at a time when he should be as vocal as he can be is the chief, Mr. Pahlaj Nihalani. His previous decisions as the censor board chief are profoundly idiotic and wholly asinine.
As ruled by the Bombay High Court in the UDTA PUNJAB case, the function of the Censor Board is to certify films into different categories and not censor them. Asking for cuts and deletion of scenes even after granting a film A certificate is like bullying the makers. Mr. Nihalani should not forget that he has helmed some of the most atrocious pieces of cinema on the celluloid in the early 90’s. His film songs bordered on the offensive and were replete with double meaning innuendoes.
Sometimes, as a citizen of the country, I feel upset and even jealous of the Censor Board in the West. The way it functions is something all the members of the Indian Board need to learn.
It understands which films are suitable for which audiences. Films like American Pie, The Hangover Series and The Wolf of Wall Street are passed with R-rated certificates, with hardly any cuts. The members there realize that the audiences today, particularly the youth, has an appetite for such adult content and is prepared to see such films. Alas, such free flowing thinking and independent filmmaking in India seems a distant dream. In the name of Sanskaar, content driven films with some doses of adult content continue to suffer.
Delving deeper into the matter, here are some instances when the censor board went completely wrong.