Unlike many people, I prefer to buy my movies legally—which is to say, pay the extra amount for an original VCD or DVD. Which means my movies have that horrible little smudged Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) poster that classifies them as U (universal), U/A (not sure what the technical term is, but I think this means 15+) or A (adult).
However, the CBFC has been notorious for its temperamental ways, and it would take some seriously insane (il)logic to figure out exactly what goes into film certification. But honestly, considering exactly what sort of scenes they cut out, it just shows how sick our society is!
Was watching The History of Violence recently on VCD. It is a horrifically violent film and should have been rated A for that reason only. It was, of course. However, later “research” tells me that the film was “sanitized” for Indian audiences. Nope, the gore wasn’t cut out—not even the part where a little girl gets shot. Apparently, “We, the People of India”, need censorship when it comes to sexual content!
However, this is more about me being peeved at losing a chance of peeking at Viggo Mortensen’s bare bottom or Maria Bello’s open robe. Fine, while the CBFC (or whoever’s responsible) might have some weird ideas about appropriateness—though I’m not sure what exactly gives them the right to make the decision on behalf of adult citizens of a free country—there are other people who have even weirder ideas of the society we live in!
I’m referring, of course, to fundamentalist religious and corrupt politicial factions who, in their attempt to mould India and Indians in their own rigid understanding of what those terms mean, hold us to ransom should we want to stray from their notions of right and wrong, watch or read what they deem unfit. Take, for instance, the non-screening of Fanaa in Gujarat, and the banning of Da Vinci Code in a number of states.
On one hand we like to call ourselves an emerging power and tell the world how progressive Indian society is. But the truth is day by day we move towards more intolerant and totalitarian systems. Whether it is trying to divide society on something as crude and illogical as a caste system or telling citizens (of what is, on paper, a free country) what they can or cannot watch.
So what is the moral of the story? If you really want to watch a movie badly, get someone from abroad send you the DVD or borrow a friend’s pirated copy??