Censor Boards and Uncensored Warnings | Indian Film Industry

Statutory Warning Tamil Film

We live in a country where everyone, from your five year old child to my seventy year old uncle is aware of all the show timings for our favourite movie. Awards has to be instituted in the name of those great souls who check the show time thrice before booking their tickets and even book extra popcorn in advance (in case it gets over!), and then walk in when the first (and sometimes very important) scene gets rolling on screen. Some of us suffer from OCD when it comes to watching films in theatre, i.e. we have to go from the top – that familiar, nostalgic curtain raiser song of the theatre, the intro of the Dolby atmos sound system, the advertisements, our favourite old songs, and the latest addition (I still have not understood the relevance of standing up when our national anthem is played in the theatre, I repeat, in the theatre.


Some pseudo nationalist always stares at me, making me feel inferior about my unpatriotic self, when I don’t stand up), the national anthem, the thanks card, the titles, oops, the most favourite part, the poor, innocent face whose mouth has been operated because she presumably used gutka, and cigarette, and her operated mouth (a miserably made prosthetic) shown on the big white screen, right when I am putting the first piece of similar looking spicy popcorn, I am confused whether I am chewing the popcorn or the lady’s mouth.

So, I was saying, we have an obsessive compulsion that we have to watch the film from the first (is it something too much to ask for?). And then these psychopaths enter with their mobile torches held up into my eye, even thirty minutes after the film starts (hello, why are you even coming to the theatre if you don’t know your show time!) And they stamp on my foot, rub their butt on my face and finally get settled!!

And then what happens? They take out their phone, put on the flash, take a selfie, and think of the best possible caption to post on ‘fb’ and post it, and then start texting in their college alumni group (why couldn’t you do this at home, why do you have to come to the theatre, sit next to me, and keep your brightest phone screen on and text your college friends when I just missed the hero’s introduction, looking at you, and swearing at you mentally).

Once I get freedom from the moron who has switched off his phone and is now peacefully watching the movie, I am bombarded by another devil, all the warnings and censors the ‘un-censor’ board has sprayed all over the screen. In a film which does not show any character smoking, drinking alcohol, raping a woman, hurting any animals, it is sensible to warn and protest against all the above mentioned anti social acts.

Violence against women is a punishable offence!!

The irony is that, we are going to watch scenes where all these violence and drinking is shown, on the big wide screen, and the censor board adds these warnings like a preparatory bail, as though, “see, we are going to show you a lot of violence, people smoking, drinking and swearing at each other, but you should not do any of this as these are punishable offences”, how much more pseudo can they be?

The funniest part is the warning that “violence against women is a punishable offence”. First they tell us it is not good, then they show the same violence they negated earlier as heroic deeds. We live in an era where anybody can access almost any kind of data with Google, and YouTube. Children are smarter than adults in using ‘smart’ phones and my three year old niece opens her mother’s screen lock, that too a pattern lock, as though she had invented it. Children are so familiar with using phones, it looks like they came out of their mothers’ vagina, on a video call with their father! In such an era, what is the emotion and agenda of the Censor board in adding such warnings, and ruining the whole cinematic experience?

The filmmaker’s situation is worse. All his and the cameraman’s, and the editor’s hard work is lost when they are asked to cut a scene or dialogue out of the film they have already finalised and have great expectations of. They have to take the finalised print again, go through the whole thing, re-edit the said scene and then edit the whole thing together again.

Censor board giants can easily sit and watch the whole movie, and be so socially conscious that they have to blur the name of the whiskey the hero is drinking, while holding tightly onto their own glasses of Rum and having sexual fantasies. All these together ruins each one of my cinematic experience.

We need to watch our cinema

Even after going through this and a lot more, I am still aggressive when a new film gets released. Many of us continue to battle these demons and fight for the mesmerising magic and art of Cinema, like the child who has to climb the mango tree, even when his leg is fractured. We love cinema, the theatre, the cool air, the cushioned seats, the smell of popcorn, and the Dolby Atmos Surround Sound. Please do not spoil it with your phone torches, your irresponsibility in coming on time for the show, and your pseudo civic consciousness. Move out of our way, we need to watch our cinema!

Censor board members are all knowledgeable people and qualified to occupy the authoritative positions they hold. My problem is with their double standards. When they show the warning that smoking is injurious to health when the heroine smokes, they ignore the scene where the hero takes his gun and aims at the villain, ready to shoot him point blank.

If you have to show the warning when she smokes, you also have to show the warning that any kind of violence is punishable (not just violence towards women or animals), when he shoots the villain on his forehead. It is a very simple logic – either stop doing it, or do it for every single thing, “അല്ലെങ്കിൽ നാട്ടുകാർ വിചാരിക്കും പിള്ളേച്ചൻ നുണ പറയാണെന്ന്” (thank you Mr. Ranjan Pramod for writing this ‘cult’ dialogue!)

Views and opinions expressed here are those of the author/s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of plumeria movies

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About the Author

Anjali Chakkoth
A traveller at heart, writing is my art. Love is my God and this world is my home. Music is the drug and Cinema is the flame.

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