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Film Censorship in India


CBFC: Film censors and their cuts


 

Unappealing film censorship...

The Indian government has decided to disband the film censorship appeals board


Link Here 10th April 2021
India's film makers are discussing a decision by the Indian government's to abolish the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT).

The FCAT was set up in 1983 by India's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to hear appeals by filmmakers aggrieved by the decision of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

With its headquarters in the capital, New Delhi, the FCAT was headed by a chairperson and had four other members, including a secretary appointed by the Indian government.

In its order earlier this week, the government said the high court and not the FCAT will now hear the appeals by filmmakers who do not agree with the CBFC's suggestions or certificates for their films.

The move has made Indian filmmakers, mainly in Mumbai-based Bollywood, angry and anxious. Alankrita Shrivastava, director of feminist film Lipstick Under My Burkha , told Al Jazeera the abolition of FCAT will make filmmakers like her more vulnerable. The director said:

If there is a disagreement with the decision of the censor board, filmmakers will have to go directly to the high court. This may cause long delays, meaning a greater financial burden on filmmakers. It is a setback for artistic freedom.

 

 

Same old cuts and bans though...

Indian film censors of the CBFC introduce a new logo and certificate


Link Here 1st September 2019
India's Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) now has a new logo.

Chairperson Prasoon Joshi went on to unveil the new logo at an event on Saturday. Along with the logo, Joshi also revealed the new certificate identity of the board.

The event, hosted in Mumbai, was attended by Minister of Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar.

The new film certificate will be based on the template below.

 

 

Even the Mission Impossible team can't solve the Kashmir problem...

Indian film censor cuts Mission: Impossible - Fallout to remove references to Kashmir


Link Here30th July 2018

Mission Impossible: Fallout is a 2018 USA action adventure thriller by Christopher McQuarrie.
Starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill and Ving Rhames. BBFC link IMDb

Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.

India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has cut out overt references to Kashmir in Mission: Impossible - Fallout .

It was previously reported that director Christopher McQuarrie had set the film's final act in Kashmir because he wanted to make a more politically complex film.

However, the version of the film released in Indian theatres has no mention of Kashmir - there are noticeable cuts in the final act of the film, and a section of the credits mentioning the banned location has been deleted.

The film still contains a few oblique references such as Ilsa Faust makes a passing reference to the Nubra Valley and the Siachen glacier, but never is the word Kashmir mentioned.

The film makers tried to shoot the scenes in Kashmir but were refused permission. The scenes ended up being filmed in New Zealand. Ethan Hunt and his crew arrive in Kashmir to stop a dastardly plan to unleash a nuclear attack on the region, which connects three of the most populous countries in the world, and therefore likely to claim the most casualties.

 

 

Update: Blade Runner 2049...

India's censor droids show no empathy for the human desire to enjoy a bit of nudity


Link Here3rd October 2017
Blade Runner 2049 is a 2017 UK / USA / Canada Sci-Fi thriller by Denis Villeneuve.
Starring Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas. IMDb

Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what's left of society into chaos. K's discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years.

India's film censors at the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) have demanded cuts before granting an adults-only 'A' rating for Blade Runner 2049.

All the nude shots, frontal and back have been deleted. It was pointed out to them that the nudity is computer generated rather than real, but this did not sway the censors.

There were also cuts to blur liquor bottles wherever they are shown.

 

 

Update: CBFC assassins...

Another Hollywood film suffers cuts at the hands of the new film censor


Link Here12th September 2017
American Assassin is a 2017 USA action thriller by Michael Cuesta.
Starring Dylan O'Brien, Michael Keaton and Taylor Kitsch. IMDb

Twenty three-year-old Mitch lost his parents to a tragic car accident at the age of fourteen, and his girlfriend to a terrorist attack just as they were engaged. Seeking revenge, he is enlisted by CIA Deputy Director Irene Kennedy as a black ops recruit. Kennedy then assigns Cold War veteran Stan Hurley to train Mitch. Together they will later on investigate a wave of apparently random attacks on military and civilian targets. The discovery of a pattern in the violence leads them to a joint mission with a lethal Turkish agent to stop a mysterious operative intent on starting a world war in the Middle East.

The Hollywood thriller American Assassin has been given an adults only 'A' certificate in India. and that only after cuts.

'Motherfucker' is still a taboo term. It will always be the same, says a CBFC source referring to the word that was ordered out of IT and now American Assassin . The word 'bastard' has also been cut So has a shot of a woman's frontal nudity.

So another censorship example that dashes any hopes that India's new film censor may be more willing to treat Indian adults as adults.

For comparison

  • US MPAA: Rated R uncut for strong violence throughout, some torture, language and brief nudity.
  • UK BBFC: Rated 18 uncut for strong sadistic and bloody violence

 

 

Updated: BUT...the idea proved a bit too much for Indians to bear...

India's new film censor had hoped to pass IT uncut with the word 'motherfucker' being allowed for the first time


Link Here10th September 2017
It is a 2017 USA horror drama by Andrés Muschietti.
Starring Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher and Finn Wolfhard. BBFC link IMDb

In the Town of Derry, the local kids are disappearing one by one, leaving behind bloody remains. In a place known as 'The Barrens', a group of seven kids are united by their horrifying and strange encounters with an evil clown and their determination to kill It.

India's new film censor has proven a breath of fresh air to the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). On Tuesday, the CBFC's new chairperson, Prasoon Joshi, shocked many and surprised some when he upturned the Examining Committee's (EC) decision to come down heavily on Andres Muschietti's adaptation of Stephen King's IT .

In a historic decision, all the recommended 12 cuts -- including some profanities -- were restored, and IT has been given an all clear, with an uncut A certificate. A source said the committee had cut out visuals of horror and many profanities, including words like 'fuck', 'pussy', 'cocks', and most shockingly, 'motherfucker, which was previously strictly forbidden. Apparently the latter has never been allowed in any Hollywood movie before.

The source says that the board now has clear instructions.  If a film gets an adults only 'A' certificate, there will be no visual or verbal cuts.

Update: On second thoughts

3rd September 2017 See  article from dnaindia.com

In a series of rapid developments, over the last week, the CBFC had restored all the cuts ordered by the Examining Committee. Then they got cold feet and revised their decision within 24 hours, asking for three muted words, 'pussy', 'motherfucker' and 'cunt'. But now the CBFC has revised its stance on the matter once again.

The film has been ordered to censor only one word 'motherfucker'. Says a source, The CBFC agreed to restore all the cuts, except the profanity.

For comparison, in the the UK, the BBFC passed the film 15 uncut for strong horror, violence, language for:

Update: Film makers censored from airing cuts negotiations in public

6th September 2017 See  article from hindustantimes.com

In a series of rapid developments, over the last week, the CBFC had restored all the cuts ordered by the Examining Committee. Then they got cold feet and revised their decision within 24 hours, asking for three muted words, 'pussy', 'motherfucker' and 'cunt'. But now the CBFC has revised its stance on the matter once again.

A DNA report claimed on Tuesday that Joshi has introduced new rules for the board, according to which, no information about suggested cuts will be shared with the filmmakers and that the certificate will be the only communication with them.

Earlier, informal communication used to help filmmakers negotiate before they received the certificate, but the new censor was clearly not impressed by the public negotiations about the censorship to Andrés Muschietti's IT so has moved to ban such discussions in the public sphere.

Update: Censors see red over tampons

10th September 2017 See review from indianexpress.com . Thanks to Artistic Monkey

It seems tha the Indian film censors are not being fully honest about there being just 1 cut to the film for strong language. The censors have also taken offence at the sight of a packet of tampons at a pharmacy. The packet was duly blurred lest it cause the downfall of civilised society in India.

 

 

Update: Kissing under caution...

Indian film censors agree proposals for new age classifications


Link Here9th November 2016
India takes its time over changes to film censorship law and similar ideas have been discussed several times before.

Now it is reported that India's film censors of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has accepted the recommendations of a government-appointed panel to introduce new movie categories.

The government appointed the panel led by filmmaker Shyam Benegal following allegations that the CBFC was stifling artistic freedom under the crazed CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani .

The panel submitted its report to the Centre recently on restructuring the Cinematography Act and rules, under which films are categorised depending on the nature of its contents including adult themes. The panel has suggested adding more categories for films with explicit sexual content instead of CBFC's use of the scissors, which often leads to conflict with filmmakers over allowing kissing scenes, sexual content and cuss words in films.

The CBFC board  however questioned some of the new categories and how they will be defined, such as adult with caution . At present, films with explicit adult content are given an A certificate, a U/A certificate which mandates parental accompaniment for children below 12 and the U certificate for universal viewing.

The Benegal committee has recommended dividing the U and UA Categories to UA12+ and UA15+ and the A category to be sub-divided into A and AC (adult with caution) categories. The proposed A/C category will not include pornography, but will be a certificate for films with explicit sexual content or nudity.

Pornographic films or those that supposedly hurt religious sentiments or harm national security will still be banned.

Changes to India's film classifications will require new legislation.

 

 

Update: Making a Song and a Dance about Film Censorship...

Draft film censorship bill is published in India


Link Here 23rd October 2013
A draft Cinematographic Bill has bee posted on India's Information and Broadcasting (I & B) ministry's website. Comments from the public are now invited.

The drafting committee have included a clause such that if a film has been awarded a certificate then this con then only be revoked by central government. Indian films have been targeted by by vested groups, religious campaigners and politicians all seeking localised bans on films, and the bill is seeking to end this rather chaotic situation.

The Committee has also sought to bring the classification of films up to speed by suggesting a shift to the internationally prevalent practise of age-related classifications and certifications. As against the current practise of U , U/A and A certification, the Committee has proposed to break-up U/A by age to 12+ and 15+ while retaining U and A . The bill also contains penalties of 1 to 3 years in jail, and/or large fines for showing films to underage viewers.

The Committee has also reviewed certain definitions contained in the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to incorporate the sea of changes in film-making. The word film under the proposed law will not be confined to the moving picture content of the film but will include songs and lyrics of the song. This has been done to give the film censors extended powers over songs that offend the easily offended.

The bill proposes that trailers, promotional clips, posters and other material should be certified by the Board or through industry associations.

 

 

Update: Age Old Discussions...

Another step in the slow road to the introduction of 12 and 15 film ratings in India


Link Here9th April 2013

India's I&B Ministry responsible for the media had a meeting with film producers and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to consider amendments to the Cinematograph Act 1952.

If the Ministry has its way, films will no longer be certified as U, U/A, A (adults only). Instead, they will fall under any one of the following categories:

  • Universal U
  • Above 12 years of age (Under Parental Guidance)
  • Above 15 years of age (Under Parental Guidance)
  • Above 18 years of age

Filmmakers are not too happy with the proposal as they feel it will limit their audience. CEO of the Film & Television Producers Guild of India, Kulmeet Makkar, said:

Yes, there is a proposal by the I&B Ministry but it would be very subjective in a country like ours, where children face different levels of exposure in different cities. One needs to understand India's diversity to understand the perspective of filmmakers. We hope the new certification is not enforced.

The proposals will have to be formalised and passed into law by Parliament before changes can be made to the issuing of film certificates.

 

 

Update: 'Censoring films doesn't make sense...UNLESS'...

Indian scissor happy film censors want to pretend they are not


Link Here 21st January 2013

In the light of continuing tension between India and Pakistan, the Indian Censor Board has sought to distance itself from neighbour Pakistan's film board. It wants a new name, Indian Board for Film Certification .

Both Indian and Pakistani film censor boards are currently known as the CBFC, Central Board of Film Certification in India and Central Board of Film Censors in Pakistan. This creates a lot of confusion on international platforms especially at film festivals, said Leela Samson, chairperson of the Indian film board.

The CBFC also wants to hide its work as a censor board by spinning the illusion that it is a classification board. Samson claimed:

In today's day and time, censoring films doesn't make sense ...UNLESS... there are some gross violations such as a constitutional violation or something that hurts communal or religious sentiments [or nudity or sex or vulgarity or indecency or obscenity etc...], we will not recommend the use of scissors. Instead, we will only certify the films as adult or ones that should be viewed with care.

Alongside this the board points out that using English language certificates is not a good idea. Samsom said:

It is a tragedy that... we continue to use English letters to denote whether a film is adult or fit for universal viewing... Most film goers don't even know what 'A' or 'U' stands for.

The CBFC wants certification to be denoted in regional languages apart from using conspicuous pictorial signs or illustrations to inform a viewer if a film has scenes of extreme violence or sex and if it is suitable for children.

Besides the board has asked the government to create more categories of certification.  In particular a new category for children between the ages of 10 and 15 years is one such idea being considered.

 

 

Update: The Age of the Dirty Picture...

India settles on age classifications of 12 and 15 to replace the existing U/A certificate


Link Here 4th July 2012

India's information and broadcasting ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) want to introduce two age categories, 12+ and 15+ instead of the current U/A category so that parents have some idea on whether a film should be watched by their children or not. A censor board spokesman said:

U/A does not mean the film is okay for children to watch. It means that parents should use their discretion. A clear indication of which age is suitable for a film is the best way to avoid any confusion.

For both 12-plus and 15-plus-certified films, children will have to be accompanied by adults to a theatre and may need to show age proof, if asked. Under current rules, a child of 12 years or older can watch U/A films with adults in a theatre.

Sources in the I&B ministry said it had become imperative for the censor board to ensure clarity on which films could be allowed for unrestricted viewing by children. Officials said the step to review the U/A certification became necessary after an uproar over a TV channel slotting The Dirty Picture in the afternoon, when children are likely to watch television.

The changes will be brought through an amendment to the Cinematograph Act, likely to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament.

 

10th April
2012
  

Update: A+ for Excessive Sleaze...

India looks set to introduce three new film censorship classifications

India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry is all geared up to expand film censorship classifications.

U [Universal] , A [Adult] and U/A [Children must be accompanied by an adult] will continue to exist. A+ [indicating excessive gore, violence or sleaze], 12+ and 15+ are set to be introduced.

The proposed changes amending the Cinematograph Act will be implemented by October 2012.

Film censors of the CBFC said the need for devising new categories was felt as the film industry pressed for classification along international lines.

Author Jaishree Misra, who has worked as a film classifier at the British Board of Film Classification in London, thinks it's an extremely positive step to have a more refined system than the one India has had so far:

The pressure has been growing (both from filmmakers and society) to move from less censorship to more classification. Consequently, parents rely more and more on the system to guide them and so the more 'signals' they get from the symbols, the better it is. The film industry can only benefit when audiences trust them not to have harmful content in their films and their regulatory system is the best way to achieve this.

 

2nd June
2010
  

Update: Dodgy Film Censors...

Indian politicians make for very easily offended film censors

While the Prakash Jha film Rajneeti has generated a lot of political heat for its alleged depiction of Congress President Sonia Gandhi's life, Congress leaders, in their capacity as members of the Censor Board, said they found nothing objectionable about the Nehru-Gandhi family in the film. Thy were objecting to the denigration of the political class across the board.

Congress leaders Tom Vadakkan and Pankaj Sharma were part of the six-member Revising Committee of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for which the film had been screened at Liberty in Mumbai last week. The committee raised many objections and wanted to give an adults only A cerifictate.

Prakash Jha appealed to the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal. In its order dated May 25, the Tribunal overruled the Revising Committee's decision and granted UA certificate to the film, which is scheduled to be released on June 4.

The fcensors of the Revising Committee had the following objections:

  • They wanted to reduce love-making scenes. Prakash Jha told The Sunday Express that he had voluntarily agreed to cut the length of such scenes from 37 seconds to 18 seconds. Later he said that he wood restore the footage for the DVD release.
  • The committee wanted to delete various dialogue used to reference the to represent Muslim/ Hindu communities; the Tribunal did not find these in violation of the guidelines.
  • The Congress members also objected to a scene where an expert is shown speaking on a news channel on how electronic voting machines (EVMs) could be tampered with.
  • Sources said that Congress members had also objected to the suggestive manners of a woman ticket-seeker who comes to meet a politician. Besides, there is another scene involving two men, which, Congress leaders felt, suggested homosexuality.

 

18th March
2010
  

Updated: Naked Hype...

Bollywood's first full frontal sex scene

Never before has it happened in the history of Bollywood films that a complete frontal nude scene has been shot. But the film Love Sex aur Dhokha has chosen this unconventional route of telling a tale of love, sex and betrayal through candid points of view.

The controversial scene in question was shot with Indian actors. Reveals a source, The script required the scene to be shot with full frontal. It took a lot of courage for both the actors to do it. LSD does not aim to shock audiences but does aim at mirroring reality .

LSD features a bunch of newcomers with no mainstream trappings to it. Also, sex and voyeurism form a major driving force of the narrative of this film which is now ready and heading towards 19th March release.

Balaji Motion Pictures and Dibaker Banerjee's Love Sex aur Dhokha talks about how voyeurism is indeed a reality in today's society.

Reveals a source from Balaji, Ekta and Dibaker went on a nation wide hunt for these actors after the script was in place. Since the film mirrors reality, having known faces would not have done justice to the story. This is the reason why the makers have adopted a marketing strategy of not going out with the LSD's actors' identities since it would only increase the audience's curiosity.

Adds the source, LSD has been in the news for its offensive lyrics, controversial subject, cuss words used in the film and never seen before nude scenes. Not revealing the actors starring in the film will only further pique audience curiosity about the film.

Dibakar says, I am apprehensive about the reaction of the members of the censor board as this kind of film needs that kind of sensitivity. I am all for the creative integrity of the subject matter and my job is to see that the message is delivered. It's not about the sex scene but how to retain the integrity of the story while remaining within the legal limits of the land. I'd say it's a genre-defining film and the most emotionally draining, gut-wrenching film I've made till now. There's a lot of heart burn in LSD.

Update: Full frontal hype all bollox

18th March 2010. From movies.ndtv.com

The hyped scene showing a bare-backed woman on top of a man in director Dibakar Banerjee's much talked-about film Love Sex Aur Dokha will be blurred on screen.

The director says: We had submitted a DVD of the film to the censor board so they'd recommend cuts in advance and avoid delays. The censor preview recommendation suggests that we blur the sex scene.

We were told this scene was too graphic and needed tempering. There's no way the censors could allow the love-making scene. We've clearly been told that even before the film is submitted for censoring.

 

31st December
2009
  

Refined Ages...

India to introduce 12 and 15 film classifications

The number of adult Bollywood films will fall in the next six months if the information and broadcasting ministry introduces two new categories

I&B minister Ambika Soni has assured filmmakers that the law would be amended to introduce the categories.

Director Vishal Bharadwaj and a member of the expert committee of the national film awards, said, We met the minister recently and she promised the rating system would be introduced in the next six months. That will help bring down the number of adult films. We don't have a rating system now to decide which film is suitable for a 12 or a 15-year-old. Even CBFC chief Sharmila Tagore has promised to introduce the rating system.

The Censor Board of Film Certification has sent a proposal to the ministry for amendment in the law asking it to introduce more categories for film certification. There are only three categories now: U, U/A and A. U stands for unrestricted public exhibition and this rating is given to films suitable for family viewing ; it shouldn't disturb even the youngest of children and contains no violence and sensuality.

CBFC regional officer Vinayak Azad said, The proposal is for introduction of two more categories to be introduced as a law after amendment of the Cinematograph Act 1952 These two categories are more like an advisory for the consumer which informs the audiences more specifically about the content of the film. These categories are there in most countries.

 

17th August
2009
  

Winding up Censors, Muslims and Hundus...

Black Widow passed with cuts on appeal against the Indian censors

Director Dinkar Rao's film Black Widow – The Land Bleeds is up for release after a long struggle with the Censor Board.

This film, which is set against the backdrop of communal riots in India, completed its shooting way back in 2005 but was banned as senior police officers objected to its release claiming it would create a law and order problem.

Rao, however, approached the Appellate Tribunal. The Appellate Tribunal passed the film but with almost 25-50% cuts in the riot scenes and the rape sequences. There were 10 audio cuts. This was one of the most frustrating periods, recounts the director.

Black Widow is a one night story of a Muslim woman called Zoya, played by Ratna Malay, and her interaction with others including a right wing leader.

Though the film was highly appreciated at its special screening at the Cinecitta Studious where the audiences felt that the subject has been treated in a balanced way unlike the overdramatic approach of most Indian filmmakers, it has met with equal resistance from right wing Hindus and certain Muslim groups besides, of course, the Censor Board.

We have faced problems from right wing Hindus (because a character in the film looks like Raj Thackeray) as well as fanatical Muslims whenever we have had any screenings. But what happens to Zoya is happening to many women all over the world. It could be Mumbai, Gujarat, Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan or anywhere in the world,
defends Dinkar.

 

17th January
2009
  

Update Million Dollar Question...

Slumdog Millionaire at the Indian censor

India's release of Slumdog Millionaire' s English and Hindi version have been given separate certificates by the Censor Board.

The film's English version Slumdog Millionaire bagged an A certificate and its Hindi dubbed version, Slumdog Crorepati , bagged a U/A certificate [Children allowed if accompanied by adult].

A source informs, There is heavy use of swear words in the film, hence its English version received an A certificate. But when the distributors brought the Hindi dubbed version for censorship, they had already muted the Hindi swear words and so it managed to get a U/A certificate.

So while the English version of the film will have a restricted audience due to the explicit use of swear words, its Hindi version will have a scope for a wider reach.

The film is releasing on 23 January in India with approximately 200 prints.



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