Indian film industry's run-ins with the Censor Board

The name’s Bond, Sanskari Bond

A scene from 'Spectre'  

Indian cinema before the millennium hit has provided some very vivid images for moviegoers. No, we’re not commenting on the quality of filmmaking or anything but the fact that we practically invented the concept of flowers having, er, feelings.

That era was particularly on most people’s minds on Wednesday when the news of the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) objections to James Bond’s bedroom exploits broke. Rediff reported that four cuts had been made - two verbal and two visual - before Spectre was certified as U/A. The two verbal cuts were abuses, while the visual cuts were apparently “passionate kisses”.

But that wasn’t the kicker. “Daniel Craig’s kisses with his co-stars have been reduced by 50 percent,” Rediff had quoted a source as saying. Normally, that would have been enough for the Twitter machine to kickstart, but there was more. “The Censor Board had nothing against James Bond kissing, but the length of the kisses were found to be excessive,” quoted Rediff.

Maybe the flowers now need a timer and a stopwatch as well?

Within minutes, the hashtag #SanskariJamesBond was trending, along with CBFC and, not-so-strangely enough, Emraan Hashmi. Sanskari James Bond, translated, is ‘Traditional James Bond’.

Sanskari James Bond, if one went by the hashtag, is the stuff of all our liberal nightmares. From eating only Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali noodles to letting the traditional lemon-chilli combo hang free in front of his Aston Martin, Sanskari James Bond is the ideal man our mothers would choose for us, should we give them the chance. Never mind the fact that he doesn’t exist.

Needless to say, Twitter had a field time.

And this is not even counting the various Alok Nath memes that popped up. The larger issue at hand, however, is the fact that the Censor Board still gets to decide what will or will not hurt the sentiments of moviegoers. Earlier in February, the word >‘Bombay’ was muted from musician Mihir Joshi’s song Sorry when it aired on television.

“There is a government notification on this. Given the past controversy over the use of Bombay in films, this was avoidable. There are some elements who make deliberate attempts to create controversy by using Bombay keeping in mind future prospects,” >Mr. Nihalani had told The Hindu.

Stranger still was the ban on cuss words, when the Board’s idea of 28 ‘bad words’ - 13 in English and 15 in Hindi - that could not be used, even in context - leaked on social media. >Even adult films cannot use profanity, CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani said during the furore over the issue.

That the > ban was subsequently revoked is of little consequence. The debate behind the CBFC’s role still remains. Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and senior officials at CBFC earlier have maintained that “the role of the CBFC is to certify and not censor,” but nobody seems to have made that clear to the Board itself.

Till then, it looks like we’ll be spoon-fed what we should and should not be offended about while filmmakers try to come up with more creative ways to show affection on-screen than having to use the old two-flowers-kissing standby.

Meanwhile, we’ll leave you with this:

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 1:15:52 PM |

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