In a democratic set-up like India where the freedom to express is a genuine right given to one and all, a ban on a film should had been a hard thing to hear. But from time to time, we have heard about various bans imposed on the films and makers crying in front of the censor board to clear the road for their movies.
Let us look at some of the heard as well as unheard banned films in India!
Success did not come easy to Anurag Kashyap. His first attempt into direction never released. Paanch was to release in 2001 but it did not find green signal from the censor board in India as the board found the film too violent. Vijay Anand who was the chairperson of censor board back then had said, “The film glorifies crime, uses double-meaning language, depicts the cold-blooded killing of policemen and people and contains no healthy positive message.”Despite the ban, the film is downloaded everywhere around the globe making it an underground cult movie.
Based on the relationship between two lesbians, it was evident that the movie was going to be banned. In this time and day even the acceptance of the gay community is hard to see, imagine how brave an effort was to make ‘Fire’ in 1996. Obviously, the censor board was not ready to release a movie with such ‘bold’ concept.
M.S. Sathyu’s Garam Hawa is one film that should have not been banned. Rather, the movie should have been shown to people across country. Censor board thought the other way. The film was banned for eight months. It was only after so much effort put by the director M.S. Sathyu by showing the film to different political leaders and ministers that it finally got the green signal from the censor board.
There two scenes in the film with which the censor board in India had issues. One was the intense love making scene between Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara and the other being the rape scene. The film director was asked to cut those scenes from the movie but director David Fincher was reluctant. Hence, the film never released in India.
It is alleged that India’s friendly relations with Sri Lanka had let to censor board banning this documentary in India. No Fire Zone showed the violence and crimes occurring in Sri Lanka. The director of this documentary, Callum Macrae, was angry with the ban and had said, “While telling the world that it is investigating the allegations of war crimes and crimes against humanity – the Sri Lankan government is in practice mounting an international campaign to deny the truth and silence the witnesses.”
Again, a film on lesbian relationship which also had some shades of religion bashing which obviously was in bad taste for our censor board. It is also alleged that portrayal of muslim fundamentalists in the film had a lot to do with the ban. But the makers took a good advantage of this ban and used it to promote the film as the film’s trailer proclaimed ‘This Film is Banned In India’ and ‘They Don’t want you to see it’.
BBC wanted to tell the story of the 2012 Nirbhaya rape case to the people of India. It is believed that nationalism came in the way of this documentary getting released in India as for many the only cause of concern was why the BBC was making this documentary. The documentary involved the interview of one of the rapist and some controversial statements from the political circle in the country. Enough reasons to get banned in India.
Shekhar Kapur’s Bandit Queen was based on the life of Dacoit turned politician Phoolan Devi. The film was largely criticized for its content. Nude scenes and rape scenes did not add to the film’s favour. It is believed that Phooland Devi herself had some issues with the content of the film. She blamed the film for not being authentic enough.
Deepa Mehta has some connection with bans in India. After Fire, her ‘Water’ faced severe criticism even during the shoot of the film in Varanasi. It was clear that the film was going to face hard time at censor board’s door. Again, the problem was with the content of the film as the film showed the ostracism and misogyny towards the widows.
The name of the film was enough for it to get banned in India. The word is used as an expletive in India. The film won several awards and accolades at various film festivals around the world. But in its own country, the film was not even given police protection for a preview at a Mumbai theatre where the entry was free. ‘Sad’ is the word.
It was alleged that the movie was based on the life of Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. The film was banned during the time of emergency in 1975 but as soon as the emergency got over and Janta Pary government took over, the ban was revoked. The film’s music and story still stands tall in contemporary times.
It is tragic that Kamasutra – a tale of love got banned in a country which is home to the book on which the film is made. Censor board in our country termed it as ‘Unethical’, ‘Immoral’ and ‘Explicit’. The love making scenes which were literally sex scenes in the film did not go down well with the board. Also, the homosexuality presence in the film was a big hurdle. Hence, banned!
After sex and nudity, the other thing that censor board in India cannot make any deal with is ‘Religion’. Rakesh Sharma’s Final solution was a documentary based on the 2002 Gujarat riots. The censor board had fear that the screening of this documentary may trigger the communal tensions in the country. There was no other option left in front of the board. Hence the ban!
This is just not a film. It is considered as one of the weapons used to dethrown the Indira Gandhi let government from the power seat. This political satire was produced by janata party MP Amrit Nahata. The film was banned as Kissa Kursi had spoofed Sanjay Gandhi’s auto-manufacturing plans. The film also lead to end of Sanjay Gandhi reign as he with one of his minster had destroyed all its print which landed him in jail for 11 months. The film came in handy to destroy the Indira Gandhi government in the 1977 Lok Sabha polls.
Another film which was considered threat to the harmony of the country. The film was based on the killings of the Sikhs after Indira Gandhi’s assassination. There was some controversy related to Brinda Karat who was also a part of the movie. Brinda Karat is a member of the Communist Party Of India (Marxist). The film was later given an adult rating after some audio-cuts.
Even Spielberg could not hold back from getting his film banned in India. Religion came in the way of this film. The Censor board did not want the movie to release in India as it showed Indian culture and most importantly ‘Hinduism’ in bad light. It was enough strong a reason to get a film banned in India. This adventure flick, on the other hand is watched and loved by many Indians on a daily basis using internet.
It is ironic that the book on which the film is based is severely read all over the country but a film made on it is not released. Well, that is how our censor board at least looks at it. The film is based on sexuality theme and included many nude scenes. The love making scenes in the movie did not seem ‘fit’ for the Indian audiences by the board. The distributer of the film was ready to cut some scenes but despite the request, the censor board did not give the green signal.
Written By – Shubham Pandey
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