Censorship Board or Censorship Barred

Posted by Ishita Tewari
June 14, 2017

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Censorship in India involves the suppression of speech and other public communication, raises issues of freedom of speech which is protected by the Indian Constitution.

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression but places certain restrictions on content, with a view towards communal and religious harmony, given the history of communal tension in the world.

In 2017, the Freedom in the World Report by Freedom House gave India a freedom rating of  2.5 , civil liberties rating of 3 and a political rights of 2. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) the regulatory film body of India orders directors to remove anything that deems offensive including sex, nudity, violence or subject considered politically subversive. The CBFC comes under the purview of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The censorship of films is governed by the Cinematograph Act, 1952. It assigns certification as Universal, Adults and Parental Guidance to films in India before public exhibition.

The censor board‘s job is to control the “corruption of the mind” and to stop Pornographic films. In 2016, the film Udta Punjab produced by Anurag Kashyap ran into trouble with CBFC resulting in a very public re-examination. The CBFC released a list of 94 cuts and 13 pointers. Thereafter the film was faced with further controversy when a print of it was leaked online on the torrent site.  The quality of the copy, along with the supposedly watermark that said “censor” on top of the screen raised suspicions.

The other movie which raised questions over the censor was the ban on Lipstick under my Burkha directed by Alankrita Srivastva. The CBFC has misdirected in denying certification on the ground that the story of the film was women oriented. There cannot be any embargo on a women – oriented film or one containing sexual fantasies and expression of the inner desires of women. The film featuring Konkona Sen, Ratna Pathak Shah, Ahana Kumra and Plabita Borthakur is based around the lives of 4 women who are trapped in their own world and are looking for inner freedom. The film has won awards and has been appreciated at every international film festival. But the censor board initially refused to certify the film, saying it is too feminist. The story of four ordinary women, secretly chasing their small dreams and trying to steal a little freedom from the claustrophobia of their lives, was deemed unfit for public exhibition. After a long fight, the film has got an Adult Certification and will be releasing on 28th July.

Censorship in India is violating the freedom of speech. And in true sense the role of the censor board is to certify a film with certification than ban the film from releasing. As citizens of the country we should be allowed to practice freedom of speech and expression and should be granted that right. As a citizen of the country I feel it is utmost important that  the Censor Board should be banned and in a country like India we should be allowed be practice Freedom of Speech .


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