What censor board members want: Slash Haider, no films for adults, only 'family' films

Sandip Roy

Mar 03, 2015 07:31:47 IST

Otto von Bismarck allegedly said that the less we know about how our laws and sausages are made the better we will sleep at night. Some say Bismarck said no such thing. But whoever came up with that should not the same sentiment could hold true about our censor board.

Thanks to the Indian Express we now know what the current avatars on the Censor Board think about art, freedom of expression and culture. And to be honest we would rather have remained in the dark.

But now alas, we know that Telugu actress Jeevitha thinks about films meant for adult audiences. While she does not want to “impose her preference” on others, Jeevitha is quite clear about her opinion on them.

“Why should such films be made at all? Event adults can be misled.”

It’s not clear whether Jeevitha is quite aware of the distinction between films for adults and adult films but what she says is telling. The Censor Board exists not just to certify films but to ensure that no one is “misled” by a couple of hours in the dark. In their rush to be nanny state, it continually does what Jeevita says it does not do – “impose its will on others”.

 What censor board members want: Slash Haider, no films for adults, only family films

Pahlaj Nihalani. IBN Live.

Take Jeevitha’s colleague Mihir Bhuta also on the same board. He personally “enjoyed” Haider but then adds in the next breath that in his opinion, “a film that criticizes the army to such an extent shouldn’t be made".

Bhuta and his ilk are sophisticated enough to treat Haider as a film but need to make sure the great unwashed masses are not misled. That is exactly the kind of patronizing attitude the Censor Board propagates as the gatekeepers of our culture.

Censor boards, of course come with certain guidelines. But even worse they come with self-important nannies of the nanny state. And cuss words worry them greatly. “I believe that films with cuss words should be certified as ‘adult’.” “Why should entertaining films have swear words?” wonders George Baker. “Films can be made without innuendos and profanities” says Pahlaj Nihalani.

In fact, Nihalani goes further to define a “good film” as “one that can be viewed with the family.”

Except of course that’s a family film. A family film can be a good film but just because a film is not fit for whole family to watch does not make it a “bad” film. The worth of a film, a piece of cinema, should not be judged by whether everyone from Dadi to Chhotu can sit together and enjoy its innocent charms.

The Censor Board under all regimes has been an institution that prides itself in doling out cinematic death by a 1000 cuts. Their job becomes not just to implement the guidelines but act as a sort of national moral science teacher.

Thus Nihalani would completely censor Grand Masti. Baker would not clear films with “extended a glorified rape sequences”. Of course Baker’s own career has largely been about playing the wicked sahib in countless Bengali films. Bhuta would have suggested major cuts and demanded a reshoot of Haider all because he just did not believe that the Indian Army did any of the things they are accused.

Chandraprakash Dwivedi says “I don’t believe in censorship. The correct way forward is certification.” That’s a fine sentiment but observed only in passing. Therein lies the danger of a censor board that takes itself way too seriously and thinks that without it the nation’s youth will spiral into Grand Masti’s pits.

Ironically Dwivedi understands the petty power of the Censor Board because his own serial CHanakya was asked to go off the air for showing saffron flags. But now the scissors are in the other hand.

Of course Censor Boards have to wade through reams of gratuitous violence and rape which is there to entertain and titillate. Censor boards should wield a firm pair of scissors for that. But when its members get too carried away debating the values and merits of “item girls” we should all be worried.

And even worse is when the filmmakers of the Censor Board hold up their own work as shining examples of what film should be. Playwright and actor Sekhar says, “All my own movies: Manal Kayiru, Poove Poochada Vaa and Sahadevan Mahadevan. I acted in 90 movies and all had a U certificate. That’s how a film should be. Cinema should be educative and thought-provoking. It should not corrupt young minds.

Updated Date: Mar 03, 2015 07:40:22 IST