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06 Jul 2017

Cleared 'Mastizaade', but not 'intercourse': The whimsical Indian Censor Board

The whimsical, erratic Indian Censor Board

With its whimsical and erratic decisions, the Indian Censor Board has become a bit of a joke.

So when chief Pahlaj Nihalani objected to the word 'intercourse' in the SRK-Anushka starrer 'Jab Harry Met Sejal', no one was surprised, but angry.

Enthusiasts had anyway just started celebrating the certification of 'Lipstick Under My Burkha', which had fought the board for months.

In context

The whimsical, erratic Indian Censor Board

How exactly does the process of certification go?

Makers first have to get their film approved by the Censor Board's Examining Committee. It reviews the movie and suggests modifications and deletions. After that, it can be taken to a Revising Committee. If it doesn't approve either, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal comes in.

But don't they need to watch the film before deciding?!


But don't they need to watch the film before deciding?!

One would assume the board at least watches the film before pronouncing its judgment, but apparently not.

The objection to 'intercourse' in 'Harry' came after a mini-trailer. "We are yet to send the film to the censors," SRK later said.

The FCAT has also rapped it for "summarily reject(ing)" certification when a few modifications would work, instead of forcing makers to approach the FCAT needlessly.

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The board has objected to what?

Apart from the expected 'sexual/abusive/western' portrayals the Board hates, there's more. It has sometimes even objected to issues/places films are based on! (Punjab references in 'Udta Punjab', India-Pakistan references in 'Force-2')

Now it's asking filmmakers to get no-objection certificates from subjects. For 'The Accidental Prime Minister', makers need one from Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh, while 'Modi Ka Gaon' makers need one from Modi!

In two years, films approaching FCAT increased three-four times


In two years, films approaching FCAT increased three-four times

These are just some of the things the board has objected to: kissing scenes ('Befikre', 'Spectre'), women's underwear ('Baar Baar Dekho'), technical words like 'lesbian' and 'homosexuality' ('Dum Laga Ke Haisha', 'Aligarh'), tricolors ('Phantom')...

With cuts like this, it isn't surprising that the number of films approaching the FCAT increased by three-four times in the first two years of Nihalani's tenure.


Okay, accepted, but can you at least be consistent?

On one side, the Censor Board objects to normal stuff. On another, it cleared trailers of sex comedies like 'Mastizaade'.

Nihalani said he would clear the word 'intercourse' if one lakh people voted in favor. Mirror Now collected the votes. Then he was seen avoiding a reporter as she kept telling him they got the votes.

If not sense, then at least consistency, Sir?

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