Censor Boards and Uncensored Warnings | Indian Film Industry

Statutory Warning Tamil Film

In our country, everyone, from a five-year-old to a seventy-year-old, knows their favorite movie’s showtimes. We need awards for those meticulous souls who triple-check showtimes, even pre-order extra popcorn. Some of us with OCD have a specific routine: start with the familiar curtain-raiser song, Dolby Atmos intro, ads, favorite old songs, and the perplexing tradition of standing for the national anthem in the theater.


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.

Expressing my frustration, it’s a common compulsion to watch a film from the beginning. However, some latecomers disrupt the experience with their mobile torches, even 30 minutes after the film starts. It becomes annoying when they accidentally step on my foot, brush against my face, and take their sweet time to settle!

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 faces a challenging situation. Their hard work is lost when asked to cut scenes or dialogue. They must re-edit the finalized print from the beginning. 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. It is 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, 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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