Pune: As dust settled down over the row between makers of Bollywood film "Udta Punjab" and the CBFC, an LGBT activist here has locked horns with the Maharashtra Censor Board of Theatres over his Marathi play. MCBT chairman and veteran actor Arun Nalawade, however, said the play, which has been certified for 'A' alongwith some cuts, will be re-examined.

Bindumadhav Khire, founder of Samapathik Trust which works for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, has opposed 14 cuts suggested by the board to his play 'Fredy'.

"I submitted the script 11 months back and recently the board replied with suggestion of 14 cuts and gave it an 'A' (adults only) certificate," he claimed.

"I agree that there are some cuss-words in the play, but the character is abusive and arrogant and certain language is a must for such a character," said Khire.

The play is "a black comedy" dealing with homosexuality and masculinity as portrayed in Bollywood with an actor from the film industry as its central character, he said.

"While writing on homosexuality, one cannot omit the sexual content," he said, adding, "The board should understand the LGBT cause, then only it can look beyond suggesting cut and understand the subject."

Further giving 'A' certificate and suggesting cuts at the same time was ridiculous, Khire said.

"If the board has given me 'A' certificate, it should allow me to go ahead with the original script as the play will then only be for the adult audience," he said.
Khire has had trouble with the censor earlier too. "My two plays -- 'Purushottam' and 'Jaswand' -- faced scissors," he said.

"I think there is a need for immediate reforms in the guidelines followed by the board."

Nalawade said, "The play did not come to me, but I will check who examined the script and suggested the cuts. I will refer the script to another member."

Generally, two board members review a script and if they find anything controversial it is referred to a third member, he said.

"I am sure the issue of cuts would be resolved through discussion. I am also open to discussion with the playwrights on the guidelines," he said.

Khire said Marathi playwrights cannot afford to fight legal battles owing to lack of money and other resources. "Unlike Hindi filmmakers and producers, the Marathi playwrights lack money and manpower to fight it out in court.

However, I am now talking to other Marathi experimental playwrights who have faced similar fates, so that we can collectively go and talk to the board," he said.