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Political censorship of Films

IndiaGlitz [Thursday, July 08, 2004]

Politicians dictating to filmmakers about what should go into the content even before it's made have become the order of the day. Starting from Baba the politicians have started interfering with filmdom. Two times they emerged successful while the third time they had to call for truce. With increasing attacks on filmmakers from outsiders the filmdom too seem to be closing ranks and turning united against such interference.

PMK suddenly termed Rajnikant as a man who promoted liquor and cigarettes. He was destroying the youth. PMK activists who disturbed the screening targeted his film Baba. It's debatable whether the bad content in the film was responsible for the flop or the PMK agitation. With the first victory it was the turn of yet another to raise their voice. Dalit leader Dr Krishnaswamy objected to the title Sandiyaar. It was glorification of Sandiyaar and this would lead to fights between Sandiyaar's and Dalits. Kamalhassan was termed as an opportunist who took to using caste names to get back to limelight. An actor par excellence and considered being an icon of Indian cinema was relegated to a man who used cheap tricks to be in circulation. This time the Dalit leader threatened to stop the shooting of the film. Avoiding friction Kamalhassan shifted to Chennai and changed the name to Virumaandi. Finally when the film was released and the story had nothing to glorify Sandiyaar's. It was a story of a family rivalry. The third time the content of the film had nothing to do with the agitation. The hero spoke about a politician from his fan club platform. PMK went on the offensive. The hero Vijaykant's film will not be allowed to be screened. He had no business to speak about politics . Little did PMK realize that they too had no business to be censors of films. Vijaykant's fan's seemed to be more militant. Street battles erupted and PMK called off the agitation.

In both the instances the political leaders opposition seem unjustified. In today's films consumption of liquor and smoking of cigarettes by the hero has become common. The reason being that a hero today is shown to be a tough guy and liquor and cigarette is considered to be macho symbols. If PMK were serious about it then more than 50% of the films would not be released. The moot question that is raised is that how the political groups can censor a movie when a legally empowered censor board exists. The practice was earlier limited to religious groups and heads of the sect. Many a time when a film was released certain characters or the groups or community objected to dialogues in the film. The new so-called guardians of morality are the political parties. The case of `Girlfriends' is one such case. The problem seems to unending. The IMA has asked the producer to not put the title Vasool Raja MBBS because it portrays the medical profession as greedy people. They have threatened to go to court. A Muslim group has objected to the title Jaggubhai. Krishnaswamy says that Tamil films with English titles will not be allowed to be released. What next?

S V Sheker quits censor board

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