A still from Pathaan
Over 10 days ago, Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone's Pathaan was granted a U/A certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The Censor Board greenlit the January 25 release after their recommended 12 changes were made (Cut the butt, Jan 6). While some modifications were related to the shots in Besharam rang, the Censor Board also suggested that director Siddharth Anand replace some words, including RAW, scotch, and Ashoka Chakra. This came as a surprise as the Indian intelligence agency, and scotch have been referred to in previous films.
Former CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani says, "The word RAW has been used in many films, including the recent Mission Majnu. That is the individual decision of the Censor Board committee." In a dialogue, the word âscotch' has been replaced by âdrink'. He elaborates, "You cannot use a liquor brand's name in a movie, but the word scotch is allowed. I don't understand why it was replaced." However, he adds that most of the suggestions are valid, citing the example of a scene where the CBFC objected to the use of the words âlangde lulle'. "You cannot use âlangde lulle' in Hindi movies as the guidelines state that one cannot hurt the sentiments of the specially-abled."
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Some sections believe that the spy thriller has been intensely scrutinised, in the wake of the controversy that erupted after Besharam rang was released. Trade analyst Atul Mohan points to the scenes where âPMO' has been modified to either âpresident' or âminister'. "I think it has been modified as a precautionary measure. Though I don't know in what context it was used, I think âAshoka Chakra' was changed to âVeer Puraskar' to maintain the dignity of the award. In my opinion, Pathaan has been filtered too much to ensure that [people's] sentiments are not hurt." As per another recommendation by the CBFC, the word âSamvidhaan' has been made âvagairah'.
Trade analyst Amod Mehra, however, believes that the suggested changes will only make Pathaan suitable for a larger audience. He explains, "The CBFC made these suggestions so that the film can get a U/A certificate, and larger viewership. RAW is a sensitive issue, and films based on them usually get an A certificate. The Censor Board only has the power to certify and offer suggestions. If the film is streamed on a digital platform, [the OTT platform] can reincorporate these cuts, as they give their own certification."
Aditya Chopra remained unavailable for comment.