Director Pan Nalin’s new film, Angry Indian Goddesses, has been distributed in over 60 countries, but back home, it seems to have hit a roadblock with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Even though the film has been given a release date and an ‘A’ certificate, what has left the makers disappointed is the CBFC’s demand for an additional 16 cuts.
Gaurav Dhingra, the film’s producer, says, “The movie has travelled the world. People all over have loved it, but when it comes to releasing it in India, the CBFC’s 17th century mindset has really shocked me. The cuts we have been asked to make are ridiculous. They may want to mute a few cuss words, but the reasons and intentions behind forcing these mutes are bizarre.”
Dhingra adds that he doesn’t have a problem with the ‘A’ certificate that the film has been granted, but he has issues with the fact that the CBFC is asking them to omit certain words despite the adult rating. “This is a clear infringement of the freedom of speech. What’s more appalling is that some words like ‘sarkar’, ‘adivasi’, ‘lunch’ and ‘Indian figure’ have been asked to be muted as well. What is CBFC’s job? Is it certification or censorship?” he asks.
The film that stars Sarah Jane Dias, Sandhya Mridul, Anushka Manchanda and Tannishtha Chatterjee, among others, is being promoted as “India’s first female buddy film”.
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According to an insider, the makers were even asked to change the title of the film. “Certain scenes that had any images of any female goddesses have been asked to be blurred too, stating that they may lead to religious sentiments being hurt,” says the source.
CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani says, “Until you watch the movie, you will not know why these words have been asked to be omitted. When the committee is watching the film, they know what context these words are used in.” He adds, “The producer has accepted the cuts, because he first applied to the revising committee, and then he withdrew the application at the last minute, even after he was given a date and time [for a hearing]. The committee’s job is to watch the movie; the panel members have given this decision. I had told the producer that if he is not comfortable with it, he could follow the protocol, and take it forward, but he chose not to, which means he agrees with the decision.”
Gaurav, however, says that he had no time, and therefore had to make the required changes. He says, “After we were initially refused certification, we were asked to make ‘voluntary cuts’, and then hope that the film will be passed. When we resubmitted it after those ‘voluntary cuts’, we were further asked to make over 16 more mutes by the second reviewing committee for a certification.”
He adds, “From cutting all the abuses to editing portions to cater to our ‘sanskari’ values, we did it all, but we were still given an adult certificate. While we had decided to go to the revising committee to address our grievances, limited time and financial pressures of getting the certification before the release forced us to accept their recommendations.”