The year is 2025.
My wife has ditched me and instead gone to a girls-only party. A fanatic movie enthusiast that I am, I took my ten-year old son to the movies. Since 2015, I have never heard an offensive/objectionable word in a film, nor have I witnessed any glorification of bloodshed (a feature I instead witness daily at my home during the frequent, high-intensity fights with my wife) in them. For nudity, I often turn to my wife and she to me. Let me not talk about our extra marital affairs. Porn in the internet has lost its glory. The Indian government has banned my favorite websites, and the few ones that have the capability to run a proxy server demand my credit card details. To be precise, going to the movies is like going to an exhibition which displays everything polished, with fiction. Realism is nowhere to be found.
The film was a 90-minute crime drama titled “In The Glory.” I didn’t mind taking my pre-teen son for a crime drama movie, thanks to the responsible CBFC. I had grown much fond of the censor board for thoroughly regulating the films that these imbecile producers throw at us, and in fact, had even led me to follow their scrupulous way of handling things in the complex modern world. Once I even pulled off a Pahlaj Nihalani on my work group: what I did was slashed the salaries of all my juniors and then blamed it on my seniors, of which there were none. I told them, with the tongue firmly on my cheek, “This was not my decision. I have merely slashed your fat salaries on the command of our company Board which I also happen to be the Chairperson of. You will have to manage with this because, all this time you all have easily gotten away with a lot of objectionable behaviour by bending the guidelines. I cannot allow this anymore.”
The following is part of a duologue that occurred just seconds after we left the theater hall.
Tejas: So, what do you think? How was it?
Tejas Jr.: The hero’s intentions were not clear. What was he trying to say?
Tejas: I think he wanted to avenge the death of his virgin girlfriend. So he traces her murderer.
Tejas Jr.: Eh? Wait, what? What does a virgin mean? Besides, they never told us she was murdered.
Tejas: Virgin means a person who has never had an intercourse. I learned that when I was a child like you. I had gone to watch a romantic movie with my girlfriend. When this word was mentioned in the film with a proper but vulgar definition, I asked my girlfriend whether she was one? I never saw her again.
Tejas Jr.: You had a girlfriend?
I dismissed it to be a rhetoric question.
Tejas: The montage where they pixelated the body of his girlfriend clearly told us that she was murdered.
Tejas Jr.: Wrong! That montage was a fantasy-led dream the boy had after a date with her. Also, there was no blood.
Tejas: Oh please! We are not supposed to see blood or nudity. It is against our culture. I believe you did not get the message the movie wanted to convey.
Tejas Jr.: Oh yeah? You think you understood the movie?
Tejas: I understood it very well. I had seen it back in 2015 when it was known as Badlapur. This is estimately the 6300th film on the topic of revenge.
Tejas Jr.: Nonsense! Your puny mind has been exposed to too much violence, cuss words, and bloodshed through films. I cannot help it, and it will be few more years until you totally acclimatize yourself with the safe movies of our generation.
Tejas: Okay, okay. There is no need to shout. Just tell me, what do you think was the movie about?
Tejas Jr.: The movie was a safe drama about crime. Although, I still cannot figure out why it got an A certificate.
Tejas: Back in my time, this movie would have been banned.
Tejas Jr.: Why?
Tejas: Because, few minutes after the beginning credits, for a split-second, when the heroine adjusted her tee-shirt, I could see a part of her neck’s skin. Remember the time I shut your eyes with my palm? Beta, it is not safe for us to watch even a tad bit of nudity in films. It is against our culture, the great Indian culture.
As a film enthusiast, I am strongly against the latest guidelines that the CBFC has laid out, limiting the art of cinema as a craft. It does not make any sense in regulating a film’s language given that it is the most essential part of a motion picture. A film, with its story and themes, cannot stand as an art by itself if some of its integral parts are pruned off. Many National award winning films in the past have had to use strong language to convey a particular theme to its audience, and now, if the censor board members are going to behave like overprotective parents, then clearly there is no hope for growth in Indian cinema. Internationally, Indian celluloid will hold no respect. India is currently regarded a developed nation, and it should start following other free-world countries. USA, Australia, and even the UK have a peer-based review system when it comes to arts. And they rarely regulate a film based on sex and nudity. If they did, Lars von Trier would better shift to catering. So, why can’t India, where more than five hundred movies release in a year, have one? Yes, India’s folklore is a lot different from other countries, but limiting a film’s essential factors will only mean that the film will be less authentic. It directly threatens creativity.
This latest attempt of purging objectionable content from films is as nonsensical and immature as it sounds. Even though the idea that “if you don’t like it, don’t watch it” does not hold much strength, regulating language, nudity, sex, bloodshed, and other offensive materials will only mock the art of cinema. Indian cinema, which has braved so many things in the past, should not submit to the guidelines of a board which has lately been showing traits of fascism.
CBFC should be dissolved, and then will I even think of watching Fifty Shades of Grey in an Indian theater. That is, if I am even slightly impressed by the book, why, which I wonder, was not banned in the first place.