The battle of bleeps has finally come to an end with the infamous list of cuss words that was issued by Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani earlier this year being withdrawn. Besides the film fraternity, a few Board members were also not in favour of a ban on 28 swear words; many even openly criticised the regressive decision. Nonetheless, quite a films had to bear the brunt of it during the certification process. A couple of days ago, the list was trashed after a majority of Censor Board members voted against it.
A source at the Board says, "There were 16 members in the meeting and they expressed resentment against it. It was decided that the cuss words will be allowed in films if used in appropriate context. The examining and revising committees will review the film taking into account where it has been set and if the words are important from the script's point of view. For example, in case of 'Gangs of Wasseypur' (2012), it was necessary for the filmmaker to include some expletives to establish the (rural) characters and it was integral to the film. So, the board had to pass it with a fitting certificate. Now we will follow general rules and won't refer to the list at all."
The list banning the use of "objectionable" and "abusive" words was circulated by Nihalani, but the Board had decided to put its implementation on hold after a controversy broke out and there was a dominant opinion that more consultation was required.
Mukesh Bhatt, president of Film and Television Producers Guild of India, welcomes the decision to scrap the cuss word list. "It is definitely a good thing. When you have an adult film, filmmakers need to use certain words and scenes. We also have children. We don't incorporate such content only for the sake of it. It is a welcome change and I consider it as a good sign," he says.
Agrees producer Ramesh Taurani. "No one uses cuss words purposely; we add it to a script only when it so demands. In fact, I feel 95 per cent of films do not use foul language. But, thankfully, there are no restrictions anymore. As a producer, I would say that the decision does not make a huge difference to our films, but I will not deny that it is a positive change. It will be like earlier times when the Board members took into account the backdrop of the film and understood the entire context of scenes and dialogues before giving it a certificate," he asserts.
Navdeep Singh, who helmed the A-rated 'NH10', says, "I have no details about it since I am travelling, but I am glad it has been taken down. The list was silly. It made the Censor Board seem like a prudish school teacher."
It is said that the members also discussed recensoring films for television screening. Normally, a film that has been awarded 'A' certificate goes through cuts before it is aired on television or shown late in the night. The source adds, "The auditors had objected to recensoring of the film. It was proposed that films with adult certificate not be shown on television at all. However, it has been struck down. We will stick to the original process so that films which secure an 'A' certificate can get U/A rating by effecting cuts here and there for the small screen audience."
Stuck in a rut
The fate of Sunny Leone-starrer 'Mastizaade' hangs in balance as all three committees of the Censor Board having rejected the film for excess sexual content.
Sunny Leone in 'Mastizaade'
The Milap Zaveri-directed flick was supposed to hit the theatres on May 1, but the only option left with the makers is to move the High Court for its release. The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which watched the film in May-end, notified: "There is no redeeming feature of any sort in the film. The film is only concerned with the exploration of the different parts of the human anatomy, both male and female, and is such as to deprave the minds of the audience. We are thus constrained to hold that. Freedom of expression cannot and should not be interpreted as a license for the cine-magnates to make huge sums of money by pandering to shoddy and vulgar tastes."
This is a rare rejection by the board for any film. The last time a movie was rejected by all three committees was 36 years ago, for Raj Kumar Kohli's 'Jaani Dushman' (1979). 'Mastizaade' producer Pritish Nandy had reportedly met representatives of the Infromation and Broadcasting ministry last month hoping for relief, but in vain.
Facing the censor heat
>> 'NH10': The release of this Anushka Sharma-starrer got delayed by a week as the Censor Board took objection to the cuss words and violent scenes in the thriller. It cleared the film with an 'A' certificate after effecting nine cuts as opposed to the initially suggested 30 audio and video cuts.
Anushka Sharma in 'NH10'
>> 'Calendar Girls': The Madhur Bhandarkar film was supposed to hit theatres this Friday, but has now been pushed to September as the Censor Board has asked for deletion of 10 cuss words to secure U/A certificate. The board earlier rejected a bikini-babes-on-the-beach song from the film for television viewing.
A still from 'Calendar Girls'
>> Unfreedom: A modern-day thriller which explored a lesbian love story entangled within an Islamic terrorism-related angle was rejected by the Board for packaging two "taboos" in one film. It did no approve of the nudity and lovemaking scenes and was denied release in India.
>> Gandu: The black and white Bengali film was a rap musical, which irked the Censor Board with its explicit sexual scenes and was not allowed to enter theatres.
>> Paanch: The Anurag Kashyap, said to be based on the Joshi-Abhyankar serial murders in 1997, faced the Censor Board heat for its violence, crass language and drug abuse. It decided to ban the film and people awaiting the release of the film had to make do with its pirated version.