Every time a film with a controversial subject is censored, the producers and directors have always spoken against the cuts asked for by the Censor Board. However, for a change, filmmakers are lauding the Board’s understanding in clearing No One Killed Jessica (NOKJ), Turning 30 and 7 Khoon Maaf without any deletions, albeit with ‘A’ ratings.
While Rajkumar Gupta’s NOKJ is based on the Jessica Lall case and Alankrita Shrivastava’s Turning 30 is about an independent female protagonist, Vishal Bhardwaj’s 7 Khoon Maaf is an adaptation of Ruskin Bond’s Susanna’s Seven Husbands, in which the lead actress kills her seven husbands, one by one. Given the nature of the subjects, there are a number of scenes and a lot of dialogue, which would have to be edited to get a ‘U/A’ or ‘U’ (Universal) rating. But the filmmakers chose to go with the ‘A’ rating.Conceding that he expected an A rating, Gupta says, "I think the committee found my film to be too powerful and didn’t want to cut anything from it, lest it affect the overall impact." Although he’s unwilling to divulge the scenes which got an ‘A’ rating for his realistic film, he "lauds" the board for their "changing perceptions." He says, "If this is because of the change in the mindset, then I’m happy about it."
Shrivastava attributes it to the new regional officer, Pankaja Thakur. Initially, the director had major issues with the Board for not clearing the film’s promos that showed Gul Panag’s character saying that she can’t marry a man just because she’s slept with him. “After I had a discussion with Pankaja, things got sorted out. I didn’t get any reply when I asked them how can the word ‘sexy’ be deleted from my promos when it is cleared in the song Sheila Ki Jawani. There was no consistency,” she recalls.
While she enjoys item songs, Shrivastava asserts that she couldn’t understand the double standards of the board. She feels the Board needs to do some serious rethinking, she praises the committee for finally clearing her film without any cuts. According to her, they are vulnerable to verbal attacks by filmmakers: “I hope this not a flash in the pan and the change is for the better.”
However, Thakur maintains that there is no change in the guidelines. “We recommend cuts only when the filmmakers want a ‘U/A’ or ‘U’ rating. We aim to not compromise the director’s creativity,” she says, adding, “Sometimes we go the extra mile to be able to do something for a film. Filmmakers were not so forthcoming about talking well about the Censor Board earlier.”