The latest offering of Yash Raj Films -- Mardaani -- starring Rani Mukerji, will carry an Adults Only certificate. Only those 18 years of age and above will be allowed to watch this movie. This is the first time that a Yash Raj work gets an A certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification.
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Despite this, some scenes had to be removed, because members of the Central Board of Film Certification reportedly felt that they were too gruesome. Here are the examples: A politician saying that rape is his hobby, blood flowing down a girl’s thighs after she has been raped and young girls being hosed down and stripped naked by the force of water. All these had to go, despite Aditya Chopra having tried his best to convince the members and retain these parts.
Incredible as it may sound, the Censor Board can often appears inconsistent in the way it certifies movies. Recently, the Tamil film Jigarthanda showcased scenes of choreographed violence that were repulsive, to say the least. There is one incident in which the gut of a man is scooped out with a knife and the copious amount of spilt blood on the floor is camouflaged by emptying a huge container of sambar on it when a cop walks in! Jigarthanda ran with a U/A certificate – which implies children under 12 must be accompanied by their parents. So, a child above 12 can walk in to watch all this blood and gore.
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For decades, Indian producers, exhibitors, directors and even members of the Board have been arguing for a rating system – like the one in the US. Here, a film is given a rating (above 18, above 12/13 and so on) and allowed to screen without cuts. So, the artistic merit of a movie does not suffer, and the director and writer have the full liberty to exercise their artistic licence.
But in India, a film has to have its cuts – as suggested/ordered by the Board – even if it sports an A certificate.
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Also, producers and others are not keen on seeing their movies certified as anything other than U. Otherwise, they feel that their audiences will be restricted and their profits lower.
It is of course another issue that theatres seldom bother to restrict viewers when they show films certified as U/A or A. I have often seen this happen in Chennai.
Besides all these factors, the Indian certification system has been a major obstacle for much of foreign cinema coming into India. No foreign producer or director is willing to let his movie be mauled.
Men like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski have stopped their films from being exhibited in India. French cinema, no way. Even recently, the Om Puri- Helen Mirren starrer, The Hundred Feet Journey, had a kissing scene chopped of by the censors. But, well, the producers decided to look the other way and let the movie play.