This piece appeared in an edited version in my 'After Words' column in Time Out Mumbai, February 2014
Nanny State of Mind
One of the first actions the new CEO of the Central Board of Film Certification has taken is to rollback all permissions granted to movies in the last few months on the grounds that the previous board was too permissive of objectionable content. One of them, ‘Sholay-3D’, was pinpointed for lacking seriousness in its content. The movie was screened in the presence of the CEO, his Board, his parents, his wife, her parents, his daughters, and their neighbors from the same floor. The following cuts and modifications to ‘Sholay-3D’ were demanded:
Vigilantism in all forms is disapproved, as when a currently serving policeman is commissioned by a retired Inspector to source delinquents to carry out encounters. The scene showing Thakur giving supari to Jai and Veeru should be removed.
All three coin tossing scenes to be excised as a British Raj coin is used in independent India. Also said coin was forged (heads on both sides).
The Inspector, shown sitting in the same space as two convicts in a goods train should be replaced with a havaldar. Also, when in uniform, the inspector should be addressed correctly as ‘Inspector Saab’ and not ‘Thakur’ (proper hierarchy must be followed).
Scenes showing Veeru running on tops of railway compartments should be deleted. This wrongly encourages rooftop travelling by children in suburban trains and violates several clauses of the Indian Railway Act.
The song ‘Yeh Dosti’ is to be entirely deleted for promoting cultural prurience. Far too much love and physical displays of affection are visible between two full-grown males. Not only do they hold hands but one actually mounts the other’s shoulders while riding a motorcycle. Sec 377 to be referred to, also traffic laws regarding reckless endangerment while riding a two wheeler. The board also found objectionable the lyrics that openly refer to same-sex love (‘aisa apna pyaar’, etc.)
Scenes of the main actors openly extorting beedis from Soorma Bhopali without a ‘Smoking Kills’ disclaimer is a lapse needing rectification. A later scene of Imam’s son moving to work in a tobacco factory is discouraged on religious grounds. Alcoholism, consuming unbranded country products by respected senior film stars encourages illegal haath bhattis and leads to liquor tragedies.
Scenes of a widow turning off lights in the verandah outside her bedroom while another man ogles her while playing a mouth-organ were found to be too suggestive. The implied invitation to promiscuity cannot be overlooked. The scene of Radha handing over keys of father-in-law’s safe to criminals shows the Indian widow in poor character.
Russian roulette in Gabbar Singh’s introductory scene is of foreign origin. It is suggested that this be replaced with the Indian game of chausar. Firing bullets in the air is a waste of ordnance, an action not desirable in a developing country such as ours. Also, harvesting mangoes using guns is discouraged as it divests the unskilled unemployed of a proper day’s wages under NREGA.
All scenes of eve-teasing and physical proximity in song ‘Holi ke din’ should be removed. The producers are requested to see Barjatya’s wholesome films for positive influences.
The Board also frowns upon the excessive use of the Arabo-Turko-Persian vocabulary that permeates the entire movie, ignoring our homegrown Sanskritic heritage. To redress this, it is suggested that the following phrases be replaced-
‘yeh dosti’ by ‘yeh maitri’,
‘mehbooba’ by ‘premika’
‘kitne aadmi the?’ by ‘kitne purush the?’
Also, to avoid the issuance of an ‘A’ certificate, the following obscenities must mandatorily be replaced-
‘haramzaadae!’ by ‘dusht!’,
‘hijdon ki fauj’ by ‘ardha-nar sena’,
‘soovar ke bachchon’ by ‘murgi ke chooze’
‘chakki p*****g’ by ‘micturation’.
All lady members of the audience walked out during the ‘Mehbooba’ song, while covering the eyes of their young ones. Helen was not wearing skin-colored, full-body innerwear, as Sandhya and Vyjantimala have respectfully done in the past. Also physical thrustings of certain body parts in 3D to R D Burman’s rhythms were too much for older members of the board. On second thoughts, an ‘A’ certificate is unanimously advised.
Horses, poultry and insects were all harmed in this film. Such scenes should be replaced by CGI and a certificate to the effect should preface the main titles.
Depicting the surgical amputation of Thakur’s limbs is deemed unacceptable as the swords were not sterilized before the operation. Also Thakur was not put under general anesthesia by a qualified medical person. This encourages bad practices.
The use of spikes outside of a sport pitch can send wrong messages to school going children to wear them to classroom and home and should be replaced with sneakers (with the brand blurred). Also, stamping on someone’s palms with shoes on is against the Indian tradition of respect and humility. On the other hand, the Board commends the depiction of the ill-effects of dancing without shoes in public places.
The last scene of a man and a woman publicly embracing in a train compartment makes us hang our heads in shame. We condemn the previous Board for allowing such vulgarity to go though and recommend an enquiry (by appointing a retired judge) on their possibly mala-fide intentions of ruining the ethos of our great nation.