CBFC ‘cownot’ accept words like Hindutva and Gujarat in films; Bollywood reacts
Is Bollywood losing its voice? Is censorship completely arbitrary? Industry insiders discuss this and more as CBFC proposes bleeping out words like cow and Gujarat in documentary on Amartya Sen.Updated: Jul 13, 2017 17:03 IST
A proposed ban by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) on words like cow, Hindutva and Gujarat, in a documentary on economist Amartya Sen, has once again put the spotlight on the freedom of expression in cinema. And, it has brought board chairman Pahlaj Nihalani under fire. The documentary, titled The Argumentative Indian, is directed by Suman Ghosh and was shot in two parts in 2002 and 2017. On Wednesday, Ghosh told Hindustan Times: “I am not going to omit a single word. If nothing works out, I have the liberty of releasing it online.”
As the debate heats up, here are reactions from industry insiders:
“Words, scenes and actions should be seen in the larger perspective of the whole film, and not as isolated accounts. This way, artists will be afraid to express themselves. If you are protecting cows, then protect goats also. Why link just one animal to Hinduism? Where are these people when girls are raped or are subjected to domestic violence? All this is only propaganda. If events are not portrayed as they unfolded, then what is the point of documentation and research? Just because someone is not Hindu, does it mean that they are not Indian?” asks lyricist Shellee, also a former CBFC panel member.
Filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey, who’s film Udta Punjab (2016) ran into controversies with the CBFC, says, “If they are okay to release the film with these words, giving it an A certificate, then something can be done about it. The way the whole thing works is quite absurd. It’s no longer a laughing matter. Whatever is happening with the censorship of films in our country is quite sad. It’s insanity, madness.”
Filmmaker Shlok Sharma, who’s film Haraamkhor (2017) courted controversy for its title and theme, says, “They don’t want to face reality. Ek ajeeb sa control hai. Darr yeh lagta hai ki kya banaye. Pehle inko batayein yeh banane vale hain, fir yeh humein censor karene, uske baad hi hum apna thought rakhe. How long will this continue for? Pahlaj ji kitne samay tak hain censor board ke chief? Yeh toh Yamraj bane hue hain.”
“Documentary is reality and if you are stopping reality, then there is something going on. Unhone yeh documentary isliye banayi hogi ki unhe laga hoga ki yeh baat baaahar aani chahiye. If they start censoring and banning everything, then people will stop raising their voice,” Sharma adds.
Filmmaker Alankrita Shrivastava says, “Every such incident makes it very clear that the censor board is not required. There is no space for censorship in a free and democratic country. These debates that happen in the media on censorship have no effect on the functioning of the CBFC. These two things can’t work together. This kind of censorship is very arbitrary. This power [of censoring] has to be taken away. Unless the censor board is dissolved completely and a very basic system of classification is put into place, that’s the only way it’s going to work.”
The documentary was scheduled to release on July 14, but now, the date is uncertain .
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First Published: Jul 13, 2017 16:57 IST