Hollywood Sex Is OK But Not Bollywood According To Double Standard Censors
By Vinod Mirani
NEW DELHI, (IANS) – Courts in India make a criminal swear by the Bhagavad Gita before he deposes in a case, or at least, that is what I have seen in films. The Gita, if one understands rightly, is the ultimate belief one can swear on to tell the truth. A criminal may still lie, but our judiciary and our films continue to repose faith in this holy book.
Since our film folk swear by the Gita, why won’t our Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)? The CBFC has passed the Hollywood film ‘Oppenheimer’ with a scene showing the lead pair indulging in sex while the male actor is shown reading from the ‘Bhagavad Gita’!
No, not Vatsyayana’s ‘Kama Sutra’, unless the CBFC thought it was all the same!
I don’t know why the makers thought of doing this, but, maybe, the CBFC did figure it out and thought might as well let the people of India know.
The Indian censor board is known to be hard on Indian films, in most cases illogically and unnecessarily. But the board forgets to apply the same yardstick when it comes to Hollywood films.
These films may be from Hollywood, but the audience is the same as those who watch Hindi movies with American films getting dubbed in various local languages.
The standards should be the same for both.
With Hollywood, especially with ‘Oppenheimer’, the CBFC has decided to prove itself even more lenient than Hollywood. In the US, the Motion Picture Association of America has given the film an ‘R’ rating because it has some sexuality, nudity, and profane language. The Indian censor board has rated it UA, which practically allows audiences across age groups to watch it.
The CBFC is on overdrive. ‘OMG2’ has been stalled. The board has found it ‘slightly’ controversial. This Akshay Kumar starrer is a sequel to ‘OMG: Oh My God’. Either something is controversial or not at all. One never knows when a slight controversy will blow up into a huge one.
The other film that was subjected to extra scrutiny is ‘Rocky Aur Rani Kii Prem Kahaani’ starring Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt. Among the cuts that were imposed include a reference to the West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and her pet phrase, ‘Khela Hobe!’. Only if the Board had been as sensitive about religious issues as it was about political leaders!
Does Prasoon Joshi, as the CBFC chief, watch the movies or even visit the office (I am not saying attend)? Well, the censor certificates must be signed and if the chairman does not visit the office, they must be brought to him at this suburban luxury hotel which is his adda.
‘Oppenheimer’ needed a look-see by the revising committee before it was granted a U/A certificate and the Bhagavad Gita scene passed. When it comes to ‘Adi Purush’, probably the feeling was that the film will narrate the story of the Ramayana and help enlighten the next generation. Chairman Joshi, being a poet, should not have let such a telling of ‘Ramayana’ with funny-looking characters and pedestrian dialogues pass. That is unless he was not aware of them.
CBFC appointments are always based on the policy of distributing rewards to those close to the ruling establishment, whatever the ruling party. There is no minimum qualification required. The knowledge of the film industry, public tastes, and trends don’t matter. The chairman before Joshi was also one such person. He was close to the ‘margdarshaks’ of the ruling party. And he decided how long James Bond should kiss his heroines!
In the early 2000s, people like Anupam Kher and Arvind Trivedi (Ravan of Ramanand Sagar’s TV serial ‘Ramayana’), both BJP loyalists graced the chair. In the late 1990s, a man named B.P. Singhal was given the responsibility. What was his qualification? He was an ex-cop and brother of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad chief.
The media did not take kindly to this appointment and Singhal gave up within a year. No censor chief appointed from the film fraternity has lasted long in the position.