Whoops! Anushka Sharma’s ghost bride has offended the Censor Board
Here we go again
We might not be privy to any Bollywood production meetings, but this is the one question we know every director asks himself: If the Censor Board hasn’t asked you to make ridiculous cuts in your movie, then have you even made a movie?
The Indian Censor board has a heavy hand with cuts and edits while deciding what’s suitable for the audience, and that’s putting it mildly. Reportedly, the CBFC is insisting a scene from Anushka Sharma’s latest release Phillauri be removed as it might ‘hurt religious sentiments’. Why? Because when Suraj Sharma’s character chants the Hanuman Chalisa to get rid of clingy ghost bride Anushka Sharma, the chant doesn’t banish her off to the heavens. And according to the supernaturally savvy Censor Board, “ghosts are supposed to be eradicated by Hanuman Chalisa, not pacified.”
This isn’t the first time the erstwhile censors have blurred the rational line between real and reel, convinced that the Indian audience has a mouldy coconut where their brains are supposed to be.
Let’s rewind, shall we?
Censor board v/s common sense
You’d expect a movie like Fifty Shades of Grey or Magic Mike XXL to get the Deluxe Cut Treatment at the CBFC. A movie about BDSM or male strippers is so far down the road for us, innocent Indian viewers, that we’re not even questioning the validity of the cuts they had to undergo. But then the good members of the censor board decided to award The Jungle Book (2016) a U/A certificate, deeming it unsuitable for children under the age of 12. They claimed that the themes and special effects in the movie were especially dark and would scare the little kids the movie was actually intended for.
Daniel Craig’s ‘extra-long’ kiss with Monica Belluci, in Spectre (2015), seemed like a direct hit aimed at our sanskaar, and so it had to be shortened. The need to preserve feminine mystique was so real that when the Kangana Ranaut-starrer Queen (2014) dared to show a bra on screen, there was no option but to blur it in order to keep families together.
If you sniff the faint aroma of sexism, you won’t be far off the mark. Here’s why the Censor Board refused to certify Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016).
A copy of the letter the board sent to producer Prakash Jha states, “The story is lady-oriented, their fantasy about life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused.” It would be wise, at this point, to note the passage of films like the Kya Kool Hain Hum series and Mastizaade, where you won’t go 5 minutes without being treated to blatant objectification of women and homophobic jokes.