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HindustanTimes Thu,02 Oct 2014

Moral policing: Play, film poster banned on grounds of obscenity

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, August 03, 2012
First Published: 01:55 IST(3/8/2012) | Last Updated: 01:56 IST(3/8/2012)

A month after a civic-run auditorium in Borivli revoked its permission to stage the Marathi adaptation of Vagina Monologues, a play on sexual violence against women, it has decided not to stage any performances rated for adults.

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The producers of the play Yoni Manichya Gujagoshti, which was scheduled to be staged on June 24 at Prabodhankar Thackeray auditorium, were asked to stop selling tickets after the advertisements were released. The auditorium management revoked the permission to stage the play, which has a valid censor certificate for being staged in public, based on verbal complaints about offensive language used.

“We had performed at the same venue earlier and there was no problem. The ticket sales had already started. How can they do this when the play has a valid censor certificate? It is just a refusal to address issues of sexuality,” said Vandana Khare, who translated, directed and produced the Marathi adaptation. She and also acts in it.

Khare said that they were not allowed to stage the play in June but received an official letter from the manager of the auditorium only in July. “We could not approach anyone with our grievance because we had not received any official communication,” said Khare. The show has not been staged since.

The official letter, addressed to Khare, states that the auditorium, which also runs cultural workshops for children, will no longer stage any performances for adults because of verbal complaints from parents. “We believe that every show staged here should be appropriate for people of all ages,” said Neelam Murde, manager of the auditorium.

Vagina Monologues (English) is also banned from several major theatres in Mumbai. “I do not understand what is offensive. The play is a frank and honest discussion of several issues that women face,” said Kaizad Kotwal, producer of the play.

“Every theatre has the right to accept or reject a production. The play is not approved for staging here, but we do stage plays with mature content,” said Deepa Gahlot, head of programming for theatre and film at the National Centre for Performing Arts.


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