(A) Censor Board of India, (A) Religious Groups, and (A) Political Parties

An upcoming Tamil movie titled “Taramani” gets an ‘A’ certificate for having a scene showing a woman taking liquor without mixing. Lol! Really? Yes. CBFC, or call it “Censor Board of India”, is one of the most notorious film regulatory boards in the world. Recently CBFC ordered a ban on the film, “Lipstick Under My Burkha”, mentioning that the film is too “lady-oriented”. Censor Board went on to cut around 40% of the film calling it “too bold for the audience”.

What is that certificate which CBFC gives to a film after spending time in front of it for two to three hours! What does this “U” or “A” means? What if they are not giving any “certificate”? Can government or somebody restrict a movie’s release after getting the certificate from CBFC? How many movies are banned in India? What are the reason for those ban?

  1. Films with the U certification can be watched by people of any age. These movies may contain some mild violence and/ very mild sexual scenes.
  2. Films with the U/A certification can be watched by a child under parental guidance. These films can contain some strong violence, moderate sex (without any traces of nudity or sexual detail), frightening scenes and muted abusive and filthy language.
  3. Films with the A certification are for adults. These films can contain heavily strong violence, strong sex, strong abusive language (but words which insults or degrades women are not allowed), and even some controversial and adult themes considered unsuitable for young viewers.
  4. Films with S certification are not for public screening. It is for the people associated with the respective theme/project.

Not Enough? The CBFC clears a film only if there’s a smoking/drinking disclaimer inserted in the film, not at the beginning or end, but every single time a character is drinking or smoking. During the release of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”, Allen refused to do so. This resulted in the film not getting a Censor clearance. David Fincher’s “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” (2011) faced another issue with the rape and nude scene in the movie. He decided not to release the movie in India instead of going with CBFC’s recommended CUTS. Censor Board was the villain for these movies but it was the religious outfit who banned “The Da Vinci Code”.

“Merely putting a ticker warning at some remote corner of the screen whenever there is smoking or drinking shown is not enough anymore,” Pahlaj Nihalani. Central Board of Film Certification order has banned actors from being shown drinking or smoking on screen. Apart from all these ridiculous ‘CUT Recommendations’ of Censor Board, certain State Governments has their team for ‘regulating’. Eg. In 2011, Tamil Nadu government issued strict norms for movies to be eligible for entertainment tax. Apart from getting “U” certificate, TN Government added that the story-line “should be conducive to the development of Tamil language and culture” and that “all the dialogues should be predominantly in Tamil”.

Films Banned For Sex/Nude/Violent Scenes
1996 Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love It was banned due to sexual content. The version released in India had 2 minute cut of nudity.
2001 Paanch It was banned for glorifying drugs, sex and violence, later certified with cuts but went unreleased.
2004 The Pink Mirror The film was denied a rating for its homosexual content.
2010 Gandu The film was banned in India due to explicit sexual scenes.
2011 Chatrak The movie wasn’t allowed theatrical release due to its sexual content.
2015 The Painted House The CBFC denied a rating to film for containing nudity.
2015 Chayam Poosiya Veedu The film was not given a certificate since there was a nude scene in it.


Films Banned By Government For Political / Religious Issues
1959 Neel Akasher Neechey It was banned for two months for overt political overtones; it showed the troubles faced by an immigrant Chinese wage laborer in 1930s Calcutta.
1963 Gokul Shankar It was banned for depicting the psychological motivations of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.
1973 Garam Hawa The release was held up by the censors for 8 months. The film depicted a Muslim family during the partition of India.
1975 Aandhi It was banned during Emergency by Indira Gandhi and subsequently released in 1977 after Janata Partycame into power.
1977 Kissa Kursi Ka The film was banned by the Congress government for lampooning the Emergency. The master prints and all copies was lifted from the Censor Board office and burned by Sanjay Gandhi supporters.
1971 Sikkim The film was banned after Sikkim’s merger in India in 1975, as it showed the Chogyal-ruled Sikkim as a sovereign state. The ban was lifted in September 2010.[7]
1993 Kuttrapathirikai The film was completed in 1993. As it had Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination as a backdrop, it was not released until 2007.
1996 Fire Theatres were attacked by Hindu fundamentalists for depicting a lesbian relationship.
2003 Hawayein The film, set against the backdrop to the 1984 Sikh genocide, is banned in the Indian states of Delhi, J&K, Haryana and Punjab.
2004 Hava Aney Dey The movie was not approved by the Censor Board because the director didn’t accept the suggested 21 cuts.
2005 Black Friday The movie was based on the 1993 Bombay bombings. The released was blocked until the verdict of the lawsuit by the Bombay High Court on the petition of the under-trials.
2005 Amu This movie was based on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots initially was denied a rating. The film was later given an adult rating after some audio-cuts.
2005 Water The movie faced opposition during its shooting from hardline Hindu organizations in Varanasi. The Uttar Pradesh government stopped the shooting. The shooting was then shifted to Sri Lanka.
2007 Aaja Nachle The movie was banned because the lyrics of the title song was allegedly humiliating the Dalits.
2008 Jodhaa Akbar The film was banned after protests from the Rajput community over Jodha Bai’s depiction as Akbar’s wife. The film was not released in Rajasthan after theatre owners received letters written in blood from Karni Sena.
2013 Papilio Buddha Initially banned due to its criticism of Mahatma Gandhi.
2013 Madras Cafe The film was not released in Tamil Nadu after several groups protested that the film portrayed the Tamil Tigers in a bad light.
2013 Vishwaroopam The film was banned after objections were expressed by Muslim groups regarding the portrayal of the Muslim community in a bad light. The movie was later released after seven scenes were cut.
2014 Inam – Ceylon The film was not released in Tamil Nadu after several groups protested that the film portrayed the Tamil Tigers in a bad light.
2014 Kaum De Heere The film was banned by the central government after the Intelligence Bureau had warned that the film may cause communal tensions. The film glorified the assassins of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
2015 Unfreedom The director Raj Amit Kumar was told by the Board that film will cause clashes between Hindus and Muslims, and will provoke “unnatural passions”.
2015 The Mastermind Jinda Sukha The film was banned by the Minister of Home Affairs. The films is based on the lives of the assassins of General Arun Shridhar Vaidya.
2016 Mohalla Assi The CBFC denied a rating to the film. The film deals with the commercialisation of the pilgrimage city Varanasi.
2016 Santa Banta Pvt Ltd The film was banned by the state government for portraying Sikhs in a denigrating and defamatory manner.

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