You are reading a very interesting book. When you reach the hundredth page, you find out that someone has torn out the next twenty pages. You discover further that five pages have been torn out after every fifty pages. How would you feel?
This is what censorship feels like to a film viewer.
It makes him feel that he is watching a defaced version of a work of art, that what he is watching is a patchwork instead of a flow, which he is being forced to watch only what someone thinks is good for him to watch.
Latest example in India is Udta Punjab, which is yet to be released. CBFC has advocated 89 cuts in it, because some people have found that showing drug menace associated with ‘Punjab’ is offending (they want the very name Punjab removed from it). Maybe they should release the film as a .gif file.
Censorship is when the state authority decides that what their citizens must watch and what they must not watch. It affirms the fact that though you are old enough to earn your living, to buy and sell property, to pour some pegs of daaru down your throat, to sire or bear children or vote for the next government of your country, you aren’t old enough to choose what you should watch for your entertainment. So let the moral guardians nominated by the Mai Baap Sarkaar decide that, after all they know what the best is for you.
We might be told that we are the citizens of the largest democracy in the world, but censorship makes us feel that we dwell in a Communist regime or a Shariah ruled state.
The Censor Board of India is run by the Cinematography Act, 1952 which has not been amended. It probably assumes that something like cinema does not undergo change so it is alright if the law dating back to the time of India’s first parliamentary election is continued for all time to come by bunch of so called imminent senior citizens who can be anyone from a businessman with a few connections to a washed out faded star of the 1950s who still views the world in Eastmancolor.
It is these scissory ladies and gentlemen who sit and brood over all the new films that come, cutting and snipping anything that they deem objectionable. Objectionable content is everything other than a script which has a joint family of two hundred who break into a song and dance very ten minutes.
The latest amusing curse to hit the movies is the government’s obsession with smoking ills. So you see blurred squares over the villians or hero’s mouth where the cigarette should have been. According to them, we will not know that they are smoking on screen. Really smart.
The films are further butchered when they are shown on television because the channel heads as per the rules of the I&B ministry make the Censor Board personnel look like liberals.
So off goes all the swearwords, everything from the A word, the B word, the F word and the C word (both in English and Hindi hehe). As a result any of our favourite gangster films, cop films or war films sound like a semi-mute film when shown on television. Still, they show The Departed, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction on TV, which without cuss words are as incoherent as baby talk.
Off goes the excessive violence and blood. So you are not shown any scenes where the person gets shot in the head or chest or is decapitated. You are to know that the character is dead and his death is not shown cause you can faint from the blood. Looks like James Bond style bloodless violence (no one bleeds in a Bond movie. You get shot and you slump to the floor) some concerned individuals had even suggested that violence from cartoons like Tom and Jerry should also be edited out. If only one could put their likes in straightjacket and throw them in a padded room. Visual media certainly are not meant for them.
Off go all those much awaited beach and bedroom scenes. Cut them out, even if it mars the continuity of the film and reduces it from two hours to 45 mins.
Why show these films on television at all then? Why butcher a good movie for your own self-righteousness and make a fool out of the viewer? He can watch it on DVD instead. The movie channels should only stick to Disney classics or the Bollywood family drama. Because according to the rule makers a family of two hundred celebrating a wedding every fortnight is more realistic than a person smoking or a steamy scene.
Or on the other hand ban the offending film altogether if the makers do not agree to chop it to the censor board’s taste. This is what happened to films like Eyes Wide Shut (1999) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2012). And they will not be the last.
We have come a long way from the days when the makers of Gone with the Wind (1937) were fined for using the word “damn” in Clark Gable’s last line of the film. But seems that Indian Censor Board still has the mentality seen in the days of witch hunting and inquisitions.
Do these people even realize that a child today is exposed to more filth than an adult was twenty years ago? One cannot censor the swearwords hurled at him, the pornography that he views on the net or the grotesque ideas planted in his/her head by peer pressure. Censoring visual content in cinema and television is only a cosmetic measure. The wiseguys who say that TV increases crime have to open their eyes to the fact that the worst crimes of the most deprived nature from gruesome murders to rapes and pedophilia and juvenile crimes happen very commonly in places where people have no access to any visual media.
Censorship is worse than piracy because it defaces the film. Piracy copies the film illegally but does not mutilate it atleast. Cutting out dialogues and entire scenes just because a bunch of people deems it offensive is insult to the viewers and to the the medium of cinema itself. When the films are already categorized as U, PG and A, what is the use of further cutting it when you have to show it in a cinema hall or later on TV? Why cannot we have rating based films classification as they have it in USA like G, PG, 12,15 and 18?
Censorship has no place in a free democratic society. Because when you say democracy, you have no place for big brother. And we need to define our definition of vulgarity and what is the real corrupting influence on people.
It is not a naked woman / gory death / expletive laced politically incorrect dialogue onscreen that is harmful for the social wellbeing.
The real harmful things are the various “family” tele serials which are making zombies out of their largely women audiences through their archaic portrayal of society and glorification of gaudy characters. Censorship doesn’t affect them.
The real harmful things are the superfluous romantic films which have screwed their target audience so much that a lot of problems of today’s students involve around relationships and break ups. Censorship doesn’t affect them.
The real harmful things are the films made with criminal and underworld money which glorify terrorism and anarchy and promote cheapness in the name of art. Censorship doesn’t affect them.
The real harmful things are the horrendous ads ranging from the misleading information to the racist fairness creams to the overall plan of making everyone follow a hedonistic consumerism based lifestyle. Censorship doesn’t affect them.
The real harmful things are the so called news channels that sell only sensationalism and surrogate pornography and paid news instead of showing real news. Censorship doesn’t affect them.
Why doesn’t anyone think about censoring these? Censorship doesn’t affect them.