Offensive is a word that has many connotations, it appears. And the Censor Board seems to know them all.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), to give it its proper name, has stepped in to defend the official change of our city’s name from Bombay to Mumbai in, of all things, a music video.
Musician Mihir Joshi who wrote a song called ‘Sorry’, a part of his album Mumbai Blues, has included the word “Bombay” in the song. Not because of any nostalgic hearkening, but because it rhymed with another word in the lyrics.
For the Censor Board, this apparently ranked along with profanity and obscenity because “Bombay” has been bleeped out in the video that was finally released. The censorship has taken place only in the television version of the video. It remains untouched on the internet, but that is cold comfort.
Looking at the bigger picture, this action by the Censor Board is extremely worrying. While on the one hand, raunchy dance moves and suggestive gestures — not to mention vile language — appear on our screens unchecked, the guardians of morality on our screens have seen fit to bear down on an entirely harmless act.
Not only does this make a mockery of the intent and purpose of censorship, it also gives rise to the question why have censorship at all?
In countries like the USA, a ratings authority certifies films as being suitable for certain audiences, based on their content. From G (for general audiences) to NC-17 (no one 17 years of age and under admitted, clearly adult), the films are a guide for viewers who can choose what to watch.
In an age when practically unrestricted content is available through a variety of means, clinging to an archaic censorship system makes little, if any, sense.
And when it comes to arbitrary cracking down on the use of a city’s name, perhaps it is time to do away with it altogether.