With a huge rise in the number of international– mostly American and British– TV shows over the past ten years and their increasing availability on networks in India, a wide array of choices has opened up to the audience in our country. With the increase in globalisation of culture, most of these shows have been well-received and hugely appreciated which is not surprising when compared to the age-old rigmarole of Indian TV shows that rarely move beyond household dramas.
In this regard, there has been almost a country-wide protest against the unbridled censorship on scenes that are too “adult”, “mature”, or “violent” for the Indian audience to handle. Most such TV shows with adult themes, say for instance, the widely popular Dexter, or the less known HBO series Spartacus, are aired , but in their heavily edited avatar. This compromise, which functions based basically on the view that the Indian audience is not mature enough to handle such explicit scenes, is resented by most of the Indian viewers and on occasions cause an increase in pirated downloads, as claim the viewers.
While this resentment is not without reason, there is a flipside to it that the viewers fail to see. Yes, it is true that editing out scenes does compromise the artistic integrity of the show and that most of us out there are well equipped to handle such scenes, but it is also true that there are many who are not. The damage done by editing and censoring, however major it may be, is pale in comparison when we stop to think about the large number of Indian population that would be adversely affected by exposure to things they are not yet mature enough to handle. Age is one factor, of course. Parental supervision, however strict, cannot ensure that children never stumble upon such stuff which is clearly not meant for them to see.
Then there are those people from certain strata of society who, though well-off and as such also open to these shows, are not only of extremely conservative background but are also unused to such explicitly sexual and violent material. Such people can be adversely influenced by these shows in their unedited versions and this can, much predictably, have a direct ill impact on society. As it is, even many Indian movies and shows have been seen to have influenced people to commit crimes of passion or inspired planned out actions. Even if they are not direct cause of the crime, they well become the justification of such actions. The social dilemma that ensues is chaotic and ruins, directly and indirectly, the lives of many.
Besides these, there are also those who simply rail against the very idea of these shows, calling them offensive to Indian sentiments and culture. These are few and far between and though they are neither rational in their justification nor can directly cause any damage to society, this cultural closed-door policy just goes on to show that a large number of people in India, irrespective of social backgrounds, still lack the maturity to handle in good spirit anything that goes against their ideology and concepts of morality.
It is all very well to say that the fault lies not with the shows but with the mentality of these people. In all practicality it is much more possible and efficient to block out things that a large part of the Indian audience is not yet equipped enough to handle maturely than to go out on a mission to convert overnight the ideas of such people and turn them into modern, free-thinking, rational beings. At least for a view years till the change is eventually made. The idea is not to justify with theoretical or logical reasons why special censorship on TV shows should be imposed when being aired in India but to make people realize the practical need for it, until the time comes when the majority of our people have come to a more open-minded state of being.