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Jab Harry And Sejal Met Censor Board

Films are the reflection as well as the mirror to a society. The cultural emergency imposed by the censor board on Indian cinema always brings up the topic of ‘Freedom of expression’ in the limelight.

Imitiaz Ali’s magnum opus Jab Harry Met Sejal is sailing in troubled waters. In a mini trailer of the film released by the director on social media, Anushka Sharma hands over an indemnity bond to Shahrukh Khan that says, there will be no legal charges if the couple ends up having intercourse.

Like the cuss words mentioned in the report by the censor board, the word ‘intercourse’ too did not go well with CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani. While talking to Mirror Now he said, “If you take votes from the public, I will definitely promise that I will clear this word on the picture and the promo also. If you get one lakh votes from 36 years old and above married Indians on this poll, it will mean the world has completely changed, India is changing and families want their 12-year-old children to understand what this word means,” he added.

After the news channel succeeded in getting the support from the public, Nihalani refused to comment. In March 2015, the word ‘lesbian’ was muted in one of the Yash Raj Films’ Dum Laga Ke Haish.

Bollywood’s censorship woes are not ending. Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under my Burkha was turned down for being a ‘lady oriented’ film. Now the film has been granted an ‘A’ certificate with some cuts and the duration of sex scenes have been reduced. During the March 2015 to April 2016, as many as 94 Indian Feature Films and 59 Foreign Feature Films were initially refused by the CBFC. Talking about 2017, the data has not been updated on the website.

Films are the reflection as well as the mirror to a society. The cultural emergency imposed by the censor board on Indian cinema always brings up the topic of ‘Freedom of expression’ in the limelight.

Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression. However Art. 19 (2) gives the state the power to impose reasonable restrictions in the name of security of the state, sovereignty and integrity of India, friendly relationships with foreign countries, public order, decency and morality, contempt of the court and defamation. A ban on a film is justified on these grounds only.

Since his appointment, Nihalani has been in news for his conservative views that filmmakers do not approve of. Banning 50 Shades of Grey, asking for 89 cuts in Udta Punjab, rejecting The Battle for Banaras documentary and banning the film Unfreedom are some instances.

Good, bad, offensive, abusive are very subjective terms. What is offensive for a section of society may be acceptable to another. Curtailing artistic freedom to preserve norms of society is an unwarranted approach. Furthermore, digital revolution and growth of OTT platforms have provided access to content from every nook and corner of the world. The boundaries and the bans are now bygones.



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