Certification body or Censor board or Moral Police?

​Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refused to certify Prakash Jha’s upcoming film ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ directed by Alankrita Shrivastava, for its sexual scenes, abusive words and audio pornography.

The notice of CBFC stated, “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contentious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused under guidelines.”

The movie trailer was released in 2016 and was appreciated for its different story about the secret lives of four women of different ages in search of different kinds of freedom.

The film won the Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival. It will be screened in Glasgow on Friday.

This is not the first time CBFC has refused to certify a film. Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer ‘Haraamkhor’ was refused certificate for depicting an illicit relationship between a school teacher and his teenage student.

Back in August 2016, Nihalani came under attack following the harsh cuts on the movie ‘Udta Punjab’. Actors and politicos joined took on the CBFC, complaining of unrealistic standards. Asserting there is no mention of the word “censor” in the CBFC, the Bombay High Court had earlier in June pulled up the board for demanding 89 cuts in ‘Udta Punjab’ to grant a certificate for its release, while directing it to use its power as per the constitutional provisions and directions issued by the Supreme Court. (IE)

The High Court observed, “There is no mention of the word ‘censor’ in the board. The board should use its powers under the constitutional framework and the Supreme Court’s directions.”

The CBFC was also slammed after Nihalani snipped many kissing scenes in the James Bond Movie Spectre. Fellow-members of the board had charged him with running it as his “personal fiefdom”.

CBFC ( or Mr Nihalani ) is too inconsistent with its idea of what should be shown in movies and what shouldn’t. 

Defending the butt shot CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani says, “We shortened Ranveer Singh’s butt shot quite a lot. Right now it’s just a glimpse, no more. What’s wrong with it? He is alone with his girlfriend in a room. They are doing what couples do when they are alone. Why is a butt shot objectionable? We’ve allowed butt shots in some recent Hollywood films. Also in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Jail.”Even worse is the treatment meted out to the female protagonist who dances in lingerie and slurp-kisses her co-star with a relish that normal human beings reserve for their favourite flavour of ice-cream. Justifying the cornucopia of kisses Nihalani says, “We have to keep in mind that the romance is set in Paris where kissing is a normal common way of greeting one another.”

So a glimpse is okay. Faulty logic, much?
For further information, How to greet someone in Europe.

Are Indian audiences not mature enough to watch movies on screen that deal with different subjects like drug abuse, prostitution etc?

Current certification/censoring seems more like a personal agenda. Moreover, it is a certification body not censoring body. If the subject is for mature audiences then give it a A certificate and leave it at that, why censor scenes ? Shouldn’t the film makers be given enough creative freedom to show what they want as long as it’s relevant to the story? If the U and A certification is not enough then shouldn’t we come up with a different grading system so that only appropriate audiences watch the movie? 

In Nov, 2016 India’s film certification board accepted the recommendations of a government-appointed panel to introduce new movie categories that could potentially end the controversial practice of chopping off scenes or muting words deemed offensive. 

The Benegal committee recommended dividing the U and UA Categories to – UA12+ and UA15+ and the A category to be sub-divided into A and AC (adult with caution) categories.

Currently the films are certified under 4 categories

 “U” – unrestricted public exhibition.

 “A” – restricted to adults

 “U/A” – unrestricted public exhibition subject to parental guidance for children below the age of twelve.

 “S” – restricted to specialized audiences such as doctors or scientists.

In addition to these certifications the board may also refuse to certify.

The current grading system is out of date and needs to be changed as soon as possible so that there are clear guidelines for CBFC to work under otherwise movies certification will always end up in an unnecessary controversy.


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