The Central Board of Film Certification has struck again. The organisation, which is popularly referred to as Censor Board as well, does not hesitate to do complete justice to its nickname. Don’t talk about drugs. Don’t talk about sex. Don’t talk about fantasies. Don’t talk about oppression. Shushhh… suppress. Overlook. See away.
Just yesterday, news of Alankrita Srivastava’s ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ being turned down by CBFC broke the internet. The film was denied a certificate and the board also provided a number of reasons to justify its moves. “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are contanious sexual scenes, Abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society. Hence film refused under guidelines 1(a), 2(viii), 2(ix), 2(xi), 2(xii) and 3(i),” [sic] the letter read.
The board is responsible for certification of films in a country like India that produces highest number of films annually in the whole world. Try and wrap your head around how it pretty often succeeds in royally embarrassing us!
The story being ‘lady oriented’ is of course a problem. Instead, it should have been ‘gent oriented’ we assume? It should have represented women without hassles i.e. women without aspirations, opinions and free speech. It should have sketched itself against a perfectly patriarchal system where all we do is fulfil the men’s needs. How did a free-spirited woman of today’s time dare to make a film, symbolising millions of women who dream to break free? Do you know it might cause a social revolution? What if all the films start becoming ‘lady oriented’ in the near future? So much of trouble!
Sexual scenes? Such a sin! Do you even know you shouldn’t show it beyond your hills? You not only do it in secrecy, but you also think, talk and discuss about it secretly. No wait, you can. But only when the other gender lures you, when the other gender owns your body, and when the other gender injects their willingness in you. So, the adult comedies wherein the only ‘funny’ thing is the woman’s assets, are welcome. Sleazy item numbers where you’ve a bunch of men throwing notes on a woman’s waistline are welcome. But desires of a woman in their truest colour are not welcome.
Abusive words? True, they are not respectful and no one demands they should be added to the Oxford dictionary as a part of popular vocabulary. But we are in desperate eagerness what exactly were the words that simply couldn’t be muted. But wait, they’re against the Indian culture.
Pornography in any form is a big deal, right? We continuously fail to preach the teachings right. This primarily happens when we comfortably suppress the fact that we have our own desires and we will always find a way to quench it. In an era where the internet is taking over as the most crucial tool of education, and free talks on sex and sexual attraction are being encouraged worldwide, we are teaching our children (and adults too) to forbid every form of sex. When will some sense knock us? If there’s something that you need to teach your child, teach him the norms of mutual consent in sex, teach him to know his body, teach him to respect the partner’s choice. Teach him that the thirst of lovemaking is absolutely natural and with time, life will unfold its chapters. Teach him tasteful love, the rest will fall in place. And in 2017, if you feel restricting a film that contains audio pornography is another name of being ‘decent’, god bless you. For how long will India continue to live in its own bubble?
We, as a society, have been extremely vulnerable. We have taken offence in slightest of matters. Believing in rumours, we broke the sets of ‘Padmavati’ and hit a veteran like Sanjay Leela Bhansali. We got offended with the title of ‘Badrinath Ki Dulhania’ because Badrinath is another name of lord Vishnu and got offended with ‘Raees’ showing a Muslim as a dealer of alcohol. We got offended with ‘Udta Punjab’ because it showed the menace of a particular state. We, as different communities and religions, have been massively misled; with our sentiments set in the wrong direction. We forgot creative freedom, we forgot how to take things impersonally and we took shelter of vicious verbal and non-verbal attacks to curb the opinions we do not like. But, as a body of decision makers who decide what we watch and how we watch, what do we expect the CBFC to do? Surrender to the vulnerability and knock art down? Or, let freedom of speech grow and set an example? Do we expect them to bow down to the unfair norms, or help cinema break them?
Cinema was, is and will be the most powerful medium of expression. When it starts asking uncomfortable questions, you know it is getting to the problems, and you know you can’t afford to be curbed. Lose your voice, or fight out.
It’s a country of over 120 crore. You decide!