Sharada Iyer

There has been so much brouhaha in the past few days over the censored kiss in the latest James Bond film Spectre, which released on Friday, 20th November 2015. While many people have criticized the Censor Board Chief Mr Pahlaj Nihalani calling him a ‘sanskari’ Chief, there are others who endorse his views and stand by the decision.

But the debate reached ridiculous proportion and assumed unnecessary importance when Mr Arnab Goswami of Times Now channel decided to devote one whole hour of his show , trying to corner Mr Nihalani asking him repeatedly throughout the interview as to why was the kissing scene between Daniel Craig and Monica Belluci watered down to a mere few seconds…Honestly was it such a big issue to discuss on prime time television?

The censor board chief remained unperturbed by all the accusations hurled at him and had an answer for all the questions. He insisted that the makers had no issues relating to the cuts as they wanted a ‘U/A’ certificate . He also clarified that had the makers agreed for an ‘A’ certificate, he would not have edited the scene.

Indeed, this is a topic which will always be debated and it is very difficult to take sides because down the years, the guidelines laid down in the Indian Cinematographic Act, 1952, are being interpreted in different ways by the members who are part of the Censor Board for that particular period.

In today’s age when all kinds of material is available for people who have access to the internet and all kinds of  foreign TV shows with a lot of gore, sex and violence can easily be watched/downloaded without any restriction, the whole concept of censorship for movies is losing its purpose. But as long as a Government body exists and rules are laid out, there will be a check and certain scenes are bound to be censored.

That makes me wonder as to why we go completely berserk when it comes to kissing scenes in our films. Though the new-age producers, directors, actors, actresses and even the audience claim to be very modern, we never treat it in a casual manner. Instead the film-makers go all out to highlight and publicize a kissing scene in any film to raise the curiosity level of the audience. Such scenes always find their way into the trailer of the film, get publicized and analysed during all the promotional events and even find their way into You Tube videos later.

As a society we have always been very uncomfortable with any public display of affection. Here eyebrows are raised even if a boy and a girl are seen holding hands or even sitting too close to each other. The moral policing really goes overboard and there have been incidents in the past especially around Valentine’s Day when the moral brigade has turned violent.  As our stand on this certainly seems very conservative, it may take a long while before we are comfortable seeing a couple kissing on the big screen.  In this scenario, the censor board has the tough and unpleasant task of cutting down scenes which the members find objectionable and even though they have become lenient regarding many aspects, there are times when certain objections are raised keeping in tune with the societal norms prevalent.

All that talk  by our producers and directors that such censorship  results  in curbing their ‘creativity’ and ‘freedom of expression’ is really absurd  and reeks of hypocrisy because everybody knows why such scenes are incorporated in films and how ‘essential’ they really are to the plot of the kind of films we make !

After all, the greatest love-stories told so far in Bollywood  never needed intimate scenes nor did the most romantic-pairs or ‘jodis’ of our cinema like Raj Kapoor-Nargis, Dilip Kumar-Madhubala,  Rajesh Khanna-Mumtaz or ShahRukh Khan-Kajol ever needed to resort to such acts to scorch the screen with their on-screen chemistry. For if that had been the case then Emraan Hashmi who was given the title of ‘serial kisser’ should have been a superstar by now…

Having said that let us examine this issue from another angle. Our Censor Board whose members turn all prudish when it comes to kissing scenes, surprisingly seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to graphic rape sequences or gory killings or scenes showing violence against women in our cinema.  These are passed off without much ado.

Films with ‘U’ or ‘U/A’ certificate sometimes have violent scenes hidden in their narrative and catch the audience off-guard.

Our biggest blockbuster Sholay (1975) had violent killing scenes when Gabbar Singh decides to finish off Thakur’s entire family as part of revenge for getting him arrested…

The recently released film Hero, had a very disturbing scene wherein the heroine’s father, playing the role of Inspector-General of Mumbai Police, slaps his young daughter across the face for going against his wishes. To punish her further, he then gets her kidnapped by four young hoodlums and even has her mobile phone taken away to prevent her from communicating.  At a time when crime against women is at an all-time high in our society, this kind of violence from a girl’s father and that too a policeman, sends an utterly regressive and warped message to the male-dominated society of ours which could have dangerous repercussions on all womenfolk…

In the 2013 film Goliyon Ki Raasleela –Ram Leela, Deepika Padukone’s mother Supriya Pathak plays a very evil character. In one scene, she ruthlessly cuts off her daughter’s finger for falling in love with a man she doesn’t approve of. That scene was so cold-blooded and disgusting…

In the 2007 blockbuster Om Shanti Om, there is a prolonged and horrific sequence wherein Arjun Rampal purposely locks his pregnant wife Deepika Padukone inside a specially designed huge hall, then sets it ablaze and leaves her to die a slow and agonizing death. He does this because her presence was creating an obstacle on his path to success. He also sends goons to kill Shah Rukh Khan to prevent him from rescuing her and what ensues is a violent fight sequence followed by a car accident which results in his death. This whole act was quite terrifying.

In the 2006 murder-cum-comedy film Bhaagam Bhag, there is a scene in which Arbaaz Khan murders his wife by first throwing petrol all over her and then setting her on fire.  This scene leaves a terrible impact.

How do these scenes get passed? Is it because we feel it is okay to torture girls –whether daughter, daughter-in-law or wife- because men have the right to do whatever they want? Is that the message being conveyed?

In the past few years, more and more movies are including ‘item’ numbers with nauseating lyrics and vulgar choreography which end up projecting women as objects of titillation. How come the censors don’t seem to have a problem with this?

The latest trend of including repulsive ‘Loo’ scenes in all films on some pretext or the other has our so-called heroes indulging in cringe-worthy acts. How come the censor board members have no objection to all such scenes? What exactly is ‘sanskari’ about these?

Does this mean a negative thing like violence is more acceptable in our society than a mere kiss which is but a gesture of love…?

I am reminded of this beautiful and apt quote by John Lennon, one of the greatest musicians of our time:

“We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight.”           








9 thoughts on “TO KISS OR NOT TO KISS ?

  1. Very apt! Forget kissing, even intimate bedroom scenes do not leave much for imagination these days. Even Yash Chopra ji had included one in his last offering, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The lyricists are also in the same game, right from Beedi jalai ke to Sheela ki jawani kinds. Perhaps, the Censors would do well to introduce a X category, so audience would know that anything X-rated is not to be seen with family.
    Do we buy the excuse that cinema merely reflects what is happening in society? Surely not. There are sensitive film makers who can convey things on celluloid much better. Hrishikesh Mukherjee depicted a rape in Satyakaam so very decently. No show of flesh at all.
    The real issue is the money to be made. We are now firmly in the rat race of 100, 200 and 300 crores!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We live in a world where we have to hide to make love, while violence is practiced in broad daylight…..such poignant words Lata! Yes we live in a thoroughly hypocritic society which is reflected in the films made to cater to such audiences. Gore never gets censored…no threshold for violence censor. It is only love that gets man-handled. Wonderful and insightful piece. Keep it coming 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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