Are Bollywood films shying away from sex?
Even as Mastram's certification continues to be unclear, we wonder why films dealing with bold subjects struggle before their release. A look at how films dealing with sex have had to face censor problems
Sunil Bohra's film, 'Mastram', slated to release this Friday, has run into trouble with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The examining committee of the Censor Board has referred the film to the revising committee, as there was a difference of opinion among members over its certification.
A still from the film, Mastram. The Censor Board's revising committee will take a call on the film's certification
A source says, "Some members felt that film should be given an A certificate, while others felt that it should be referred to a higher body due to its adult content. Some others want to deny it a certificate. The revising committee screening is likely to take place today and they will take a call on the film's certification."
The film's producers, however, are confident that the committee will pass the film. But of course, this last-minute hitch due to 'silly reasons' is something they are happy about. A source says, "The producer gave us a copy of the film on Monday; their earlier copy had some glitches. I don't think we are at fault here. As per the rules, the producer is supposed to submit his film three weeks in advance."
We take a look at earlier instances where adult content made the censor board see red...
Zoya Afroz in the film, The Xpose
Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar had to accept an A certificate for his film, Dil Toh Bachcha Hai Ji. He says, "My film has a scene where a girl asks Ajay Devgn about when he lost his virginity. Plus Emran Hashmi's character is shown having an affair with a mother and daughter, and they are not biologically related. I even told the censor board that this was not very different from Sai Paranjpe's film, Katha, where Farooque Shaikh has an affair with Mallika Sarabhai and Winnie Paranjpe. But I had to take an A certificate for the film as I wanted it to release on time."
A source from the censor board points out that producers are only too ready to accommodate changes as they are eyeing commercial gains. "Producers don't want an A certificate as it adversely affects the film's business. For instance, it's rather foolish of producer Sanjay Khandelwal to make changes and keep approaching the censor board every few months in a bid to get his film, Vatsayana Kamasutra, a U/A certificate. When a film is certified, six members have arrived at this decision. It's easy for filmmakers to say call them 'silly cuts' but the truth is that members often try to be lenient while certifying a film. We do not wish to take away from the filmmaker's vision, but we also want the film to be sensitive to an audience as diverse as ours," says the source.
Does blurring or deleting work?
There are also cases where film scenes have been blurred out due to the censor board's instructions. In case of Kangna Ranaut-starrer Queen, CBFC did not object to Lisa Haydon removing a bra and making Kangna wear it as a headgear, but it asked for the bra to blurred from the scene where it is kept on the table by Kangna. To this, the source from the board says that it has now decided to do away with the blurring of this scene. "We will give
the film an A certificate or cut the scene altogether instead of blurring it," says the source.
As per the censor board's instructions, Sunny Leone's cleavage was blurred in Ragini MMS 2
It may be noted here that in the upcoming film, The Xpose, lead actress Zoya Afroz appears in a bikini scene akin to Parveen Babi's scene from a yesteryear film. Afroz's bustline in this scene has been blurred; ditto for Sunny Leone's cleavage in Ragini MMS 2. The source says, "Blurring does not serve any purpose these days. The censor board had instructed Dedh Ishqiya's makers to blur out a scene where a semi-nude Arshad Warsi visits a brothel, but when one of the members of the board watched the film in a theatre, the scene hadn't been removed."
Audiences not ready?
Then there are films like D-Day and Grand Masti, which were replete with sexual innuendoes, but the revising committee cleared both the films. Why then is the board so iffy about sex scenes in a film? A censor board member says, "The problem is that filmmakers want to get away with showing sex in U/A films. But we have to keep in mind that young impressionable minds have to be protected. Sex in films is usually gratuitous and that is not the manner in which younger audiences need to be introduced to sex. The CBFC is fairly broadminded when it comes to sex depicted in mature stories meant for an adult audience."
This is interesting in light of what Ekta Kapoor had recently. In an earlier interview, the producer had said that the censor board should object to depiction of sexual crimes in films and that any movie that shows a man running behind a woman and pulling her dupatta shouldn't be screened. "But if a woman is dancing and wearing a low-cut blouse, don't blur or delete that because by doing that you are feeding a mentality that says that a woman must cover herself," she had said.