Few months ago, I settled down for a typical movie night at home: ordered my Hollywood blockbuster on Tata Sky, made myself a big bowl of popcorn, and spent the next hour and a half playing the celluloid version of fill-in-the-blanks. Did Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis just have sex? Hmm, he's putting on his shirt -- which therefore must have been off at some point… and they're in the bedroom. Ergo: they did the nasty!
Life is full of such intriguing mysteries when you watch an adult-rated film or series on Indian television. Californication, for instance, is so bereft of actual fornication that it requires the deductive skills of Sherlock Holmes, and the imagination of Anais Nin to render it meaningful. I can't help wondering: Why bother airing it at all?
Our censors seem to have reached the same sensible conclusion. The Times of India reports that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) "has decided to stop re-certifying A-rated films for TV, thereby making them ineligible for television screening." That's right: no more adult-rated movies on telly. No Delhi Belly or Gangs of Wasseypur, which are awaiting certification. And movies that have already aired -- Sahib Bibi Aur Gangster, Shaitan, Ishqiya, Desi Boys, Love Sex Aur Dhoka et al. -- will soon be a distant memory if the decision is made retroactive.
The reason for this censor-industry phadda is Dirty Picture, which was not only hacked to bits, but also inspired a new CBFC rule: no adult movies before 11 pm -- a new rule . When it led to lawsuits and industry-wide grousing, our censors decided to teach the filmmakers just who is the Bigg Boss. Board CEO Pankaja Thakur told TOI: "The modification of A-rated films was a facility that the CBFC was extending to the film industry to help them show their movies on TV. If we were doing something extra for them, we had a right to attach certain riders to it… Since this 11 pm condition is unacceptable, we have decided to go strictly by the original Act."
Take that, Bollywood!
As for the rest of us, if we want to expose our children to adult-rated content, we will have to do it the old-fashioned way: by taking them to the theatres. Almost very adult film is chock-a-block with kids, from babes-in-arms to packs of giggly teenagers. Gone are the days when I had to sneak into Kramer vs Kramer in a precariously tied sari. My friend spotted a 10 year old at a Gangs of Wasseypur show, undoubtedly eager for an advanced lesson in blood-soaked carnage. Look, honey, that man just lost his head.
Not that violence constitutes adult content in the minds of our enlightened censors. I haven't yet experienced the need to explain the birds and bees to my 4 year old, but we've already had a conversation about killing and ketchup thanks to my mother's addiction to Sun TV. The average Rajinikant movie generates geysers of blood, and that's mild compared to the super-hit favourite about the serial killer with a bad hair cut which seems to air at least once a week.
Make war not love is our morality mantra. Maybe it's a secret conspiracy to curb that ever-burgeoning population. Or maybe it's just a bizarre form of priggishness that ostracises the routine -- i.e. sex -- and normalises the unnatural, as in, extreme violence.
No one would advocate A-rated films of any kind as family-friendly viewing. But we need to recognise what a strange and foolish place we are in, where we are sufficiently liberal to air a Hollywood serial all about kinky sex, but much too prudish to show any of it. The CBFC decision merely discards the fig leaf of progressivism we've cultivated over twenty years of liberalisation, and the sorry pretense that we are a nation of adults. The kind who can decide if and when our children need to be sheltered from unsuitable content in the privacy of our own home without the strict supervision of our naani state.
Since that is unthinkable, let's all just watch Ra One instead, over and over again, with some Walt Disney pablum and Chhota Bheem movies to mix it up. We are all toddlers now!
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Updated Date: Aug 28, 2012 13:48:18 IST