Update: it has been confirmed by Anurag Kashyap that the movie has not been banned. The censor board’s decision is still pending. The film makers are also ready to release the movies after removing cuss words.
A few years ago, we celebrated 100 years of Indian cinema. These 100 years were not an easy sail for the industry. It has faced stiff competition from cinemas worldwide (read: Hollywood) but has stood above all that to be the largest producer of films in the world. But this time, the problem is not any external force, rather it is an internal force trying to curtail this medium of creativity.
The Central Board of Film Certification, often referred to as Censor Board has been in news for quite sometime. From cutting a kissing scene from the James Bond movie ‘Spectre’ to giving U/A (parental guidance required) certification to ‘The Jungle Book’, the board’s certification criteria has been criticized not only by commoners but also by many people from the industry.
An interesting fact to note here is that as the name of the board reads – Central Board of Film Certification- its responsibility is to certify films for public exhibition and not censor them. That is what the British Board of Film Certification and the Motion Picture Association of America does; it rates and certifies films based on the violence, substance abuse, profanity and other such mature content in the film.
A film like ‘Udta Punjab’ which is based on drug menace in Northern India has abusive language and scenes showing drug consumption. But does that mean we don’t screen films which hold mirror on the Indian society? If a film’s content is found too mature or profane, the board can restrict the audience reach by giving the film an ‘A’ certification. But completely banning the screening of a movie which brings the harsh reality of India in front of our eyes is nothing but a shrewd attempt of moral policing and moreover regressive mindset.
Sure, there are good films and bad films. But, let that decision rest in the hands of the people. By trying to restrict what filmmakers can show and not show, the board is threatening the ability of cinema to connect, engage and interact with its audience. The Indian cinema is currently in a beautiful phase now when stories and films are becoming more real and engaging and are touching the dreams, aspirations and miseries of millions of Indians. Let this phase of light not become a phase of utter darkness and loss of freedom of expression. Let people decide whether they want to see the movie or not.
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