Banned Movies In India | By Censor, Political and Religious Parties

The Tamil movie “Taramani” has received an ‘A’ certificate due to a scene depicting a woman consuming liquor without mixing. Ironically, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has gained a notorious reputation as one of the most stringent film regulatory boards globally. Recently, the CBFC imposed a ban on the film “Lipstick Under My Burkha,” citing it as “too lady-oriented” and proceeded to cut around 40% of the film, deeming it “too bold for the audience.”

What exactly do these certificates like “U” or “A” signify, and what happens if a film doesn’t receive any certificate from the CBFC? Can the government or any authority restrict the release of a movie even after obtaining certification from the CBFC? Moreover, how many movies face bans in India, and what are the reasons behind these bans?

CBFC Certification Conundrum

  1. People of any age can watch films with the U certification. These movies may contain some mild violence and/ very mild sexual scenes.
  2. Children under parental guidance can watch films with the U/A certification. These films may include strong violence, moderate sex, frightening scenes, and muted abusive and filthy language.
  3. Movies rated A are intended for adults. They may feature intense violence, explicit sexual content, strong language, and controversial adult themes. These elements may be unsuitable for younger audiences.
  4. Films with S certification are not for public screening.

“Not Enough? CBFC’s Stringent Rules on Smoking and Drinking Disclaimers, Woody Allen’s Standoff, and David Fincher’s Decision to Avoid Censor Cuts. Religious Outfits Banning ‘The Da Vinci Code.’

Merely placing a disclaimer isn’t sufficient,” states Pahlaj Nihalani. CBFC prohibits actors from portraying smoking or drinking on screen. In 2011, the Tamil Nadu state government imposed additional criteria for eligibility for entertainment tax. These criteria include a storyline conducive to Tamil language and culture and predominantly Tamil dialogues.

Films Banned For Sex/Nude/Violent Scenes

1996Kama Sutra: A Tale of LoveIt was banned due to sexual content. The version released in India had 2 minute cut of nudity.
2001PaanchIt was banned for glorifying drugs, sex and violence, later certified with cuts but went unreleased.
2004The Pink MirrorThe film was denied a rating for its homosexual content.
2010GanduThe film was banned in India due to explicit sexual scenes.
2011ChatrakThe movie wasn’t allowed theatrical release due to its sexual content.
2015The Painted HouseThe CBFC denied a rating to film for containing nudity.
2015Chayam Poosiya VeeduThe film was not given a certificate since there was a nude scene in it.

Films Banned By Government For Political / Religious Issues

1959Neel Akasher NeecheyIt was banned for two months for overt political overtones; it showed the troubles faced by an immigrant Chinese wage laborer in 1930s Calcutta.
1963Gokul ShankarIt was banned for depicting the psychological motivations of Nathuram Godse, the assassin of Mahatma Gandhi.
1973Garam HawaThe release was held up by the censors for 8 months. The film depicted a Muslim family during the partition of India.
1975AandhiIt was banned during Emergency by Indira Gandhi and subsequently released in 1977 after Janata Partycame into power.
1977Kissa Kursi KaThe 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.
1971SikkimThe 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.
1993KuttrapathirikaiThe film was completed in 1993. As it had Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination as a backdrop, it was not released until 2007.
1996FireTheatres were attacked by Hindu fundamentalists for depicting a lesbian relationship.
2003HawayeinThe film, set against the backdrop to the 1984 Sikh genocide, is banned in the Indian states of Delhi, J&K, Haryana and Punjab.
2004Hava Aney DeyThe movie was not approved by the Censor Board because the director didn’t accept the suggested 21 cuts.
2005Black FridayThe 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.
2005AmuThis 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.
2005WaterHardline Hindu organizations in Varanasi opposed the movie during its shooting, leading to the Uttar Pradesh government halting the production. The shooting was subsequently relocated to Sri Lanka.
2007Aaja NachleThe movie was banned because the lyrics of the title song was allegedly humiliating the Dalits.
2008Jodhaa AkbarProtests from the Rajput community over the portrayal of Jodha Bai as Akbar’s wife led to the film’s ban. In Rajasthan, the film was not released after theatre owners received letters written in blood from Karni Sena.
2013Papilio BuddhaInitially banned due to its criticism of Mahatma Gandhi.
2013Madras CafeThe film was not released in Tamil Nadu after several groups protested that the film portrayed the Tamil Tigers in a bad light.
2013VishwaroopamThe 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.
2014Inam – CeylonThe film was not released in Tamil Nadu after several groups protested that the film portrayed the Tamil Tigers in a bad light.
2014Kaum De HeereThe central government banned the film after the Intelligence Bureau warned that it might cause communal tensions. The film glorified the assassins of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
2015UnfreedomThe Board told director Raj Amit Kumar that the film would cause clashes between Hindus and Muslims and would provoke “unnatural passions.”
2015The Mastermind Jinda SukhaThe film was banned by the Minister of Home Affairs. The films is based on the lives of the assassins of General Arun Shridhar Vaidya.
2016Mohalla AssiThe CBFC denied a rating to the film. The film deals with the commercialisation of the pilgrimage city Varanasi.
2016Santa Banta Pvt LtdThe film was banned by the state government for portraying Sikhs in a denigrating and defamatory manner.

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