South Asia News

 2009



31st December   

Refined Ages...

India to introduce 12 and 15 film classifications
Link Here

CBFC logoThe number of adult Bollywood films will fall in the next six months if the information and broadcasting ministry introduces two new categories

I&B minister Ambika Soni has assured filmmakers that the law would be amended to introduce the categories.

Director Vishal Bharadwaj and a member of the expert committee of the national film awards, said, We met the minister recently and she promised the rating system would be introduced in the next six months. That will help bring down the number of adult films. We don't have a rating system now to decide which film is suitable for a 12 or a 15-year-old. Even CBFC chief Sharmila Tagore has promised to introduce the rating system.

The Censor Board of Film Certification has sent a proposal to the ministry for amendment in the law asking it to introduce more categories for film certification. There are only three categories now: U, U/A and A. U stands for unrestricted public exhibition and this rating is given to films suitable for family viewing ; it shouldn't disturb even the youngest of children and contains no violence and sensuality.

CBFC regional officer Vinayak Azad said, The proposal is for introduction of two more categories to be introduced as a law after amendment of the Cinematograph Act 1952 These two categories are more like an advisory for the consumer which informs the audiences more specifically about the content of the film. These categories are there in most countries.

 

30th December   

Safely Censored...

India banned from searching for sex on Yahoo!
Link Here

censrThe world had a good chuckle this week after it was revealed that the 86-year-old governor of a province in India resigned after a sex tape was released that showed him in bed with three young women, but the story veils what's really going on in a country whose citizens search for sex on the internet more than any other people in the world.

Search queries for sex are coming back minus the sex. In fact, a recent investigation by the Guardian has uncovered an astonishing amount of censorship by some of the most trafficked portals in the world, including Flickr, Bing and Yahoo!.

The Yahoo search engine and Flickr photo-sharing site (owned by Yahoo) altered their sites earlier this month to prevent users in India from switching off the safe-search facility. The block also applies to users in Singapore, Hong Kong and Korea, reports the paper. Microsoft has also barred Indian users of its Bing search engine from searching for sexual content. Users who do try to search for sexual material receive a notice informing them that 'your country or region requires a strict Bing SafeSearch setting, which filters out results that might return adult content.'

The restricted access is apparently the result of changes to India's Information Technology Act of 2000, which bans the publication of pornographic material. That law is based on a 150-year-old statute (section 292 of the Indian penal code) that defines obscenity as any content that is lascivious and that will appeal to prurient interest or the effect of which is to tend to deprave or corrupt the minds of those who are likely to see, read or hear the same.

In October, says the Guardian, the scope of the 2000 act was widened to enable action to be taken against a wide range of providers, from internet search engines and internet service providers to cyber-cafes. Under the new law, they are obliged to exercise due diligence and disable access to any content which contravenes the act. Failure to do so carries a three-year jail sentence and a fine of up to 500,000 rupees. That amount converts to $10,744.60.

 

27th December   

Stocking Censors...

Indian film censored for removing stockings
Link Here

Accident On Hill Road posterStretching close to two minutes, the lovemaking scene between Celina Jaitley and co-star Abhimanyu Singh in the upcoming movie Accident On Hill Road has hit a hurdle at the Indian Censor Board.

The movie, slated to release on December 31, has been given an A (Adults Only) certificate and director Mahesh Nair has been asked to chop the 1-minute-50-secs long lovemaking scene which the filmmaker says is crucial to the film's plot.

In the scene, Abhimanyu takes Celina to bed, removes her stockings and caresses her for a good one minute before making love to her. Nair says the scene is important to establish the smouldering chemistry between the two characters.

The Censor Board, however, has raised three objections:

  1. Abhimanyu removing Celina's stockings.
  2. Too much fondling and canoodling between the two.
  3. The length of the love scene.

But Mahesh Nair is crying fowl and accusing the Board of bias. He says that many other films featuring kisses, smooches and gory violence have been cleared by the Censor but the board is coming too hard on his film even though it doesn't have a lip lock between Celina and Abhimanyu.

 

18th December   

Censr...

Flickr censors Indian users from mature images
Link Here

Flickr.comFlickr has restricted Indian IPs for default safesearch, and that means surfing for porn (restricted content) may result in Flickr blocking certain content (i.e. content rated moderate or restricted).

If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Hong Kong, India or Korea you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service (this means you won't be able to turn SafeSearch off).

Heated debate going on at this Flickr forum and expect some backlash from Indian users, especially in a site where the definition of porn vs. art crosses a thin line

 

17th December   

Looting India...

Indian film censors take offence at phrase 'mine loot'
Link Here

Kallara SantheThe Kallara Santhe team has set out against the Regional Censor Board of Karnataka after it warned the the film boss to delete the phrases like Gani loot (mine loot), Vidhana Soudha from it. Along with Ganigarike Rashtrikarana Horata Samithi and members of many other associations, the film crew held a protest march against the board.

Agni Shridhar, who has written story for the movie Kallara Santhe , was very angry with the decision of Censor Board. He said that a phrase Gani loot was being used by newspapers and TV day in and day out. Looting the country had been used in innumerable films over the decades. The censor board is acting in a childish and arbitrary manner with their silly demands.

Agni Shridhar further said that he would move to court for justice if Regional Censor Board would not wake up soon and drop its decision. He threatened that then the board would have to explain the rationality of deleting the phrases before the court.

 

9th December   

The Importance of a Kiss...

Indian film censors take offence at 'unimportant' kiss
Link Here

CBFC logoThe Indian film Ravana was released recently without the much talked about kissing scene between Sanchita Padukone and Santosh.

The censor board chopped off the scene, as they didn't find it important.

 

4th December   

This Movie Contains Strong Censor Interference...

Indian film censors to implement viewer advice
Link Here

CBFC logoA draft cinematography bill has been given to Indian Ministry for Information and Broadcasting, Censor Board chairperson and veteran actress Sharmila Tagore said.

However, she said that the bill was not likely to be placed in parliament anytime before next year.

The bill has the provision that there should be explanation if the film contains explicit language, violence or sex, besides mentioning the certification on the posters.

The bill follows recommendations made by a six-member committee formed seven years ago to suggest changes to the Cinematography Act, 1952.

 

2nd December   

Update: Child Killers...

Indian film censors unban Renigunta after cuts
Link Here  full story: Renigunta...Indian movie winds up the censors

Reningunta soundtrackThe controversial Paneerselvam directed Renigunta which was referred to Revising committee in Mumbai has now been cleared with an A certificate with cuts.

The film was refused a censor certificate by the Regional Censor Board in Chennai for showing violent and gruesome scenes enacted by children in graphic detail.

A censor spokesperson said: The members who had recently watched the film congratulated the filmmaker for making an overpoweringly stunning film. The film will now release in grandeur on December 4 .

High Court bans Renigunta

Based on article from behindwoods.com

Just after the deadlock with Censor Officials in Chennai was cleared and the the film was cleared for screening by Mumbai censors, Uttam Chand, a financier who has financed the movie filed a petition in Chennai High Court seeking a ban on the movie's release since the producers failed to pay off the debts.

The Court, after hearing the petition, ordered the movie's screening to be withheld until the producers pay their debts Rs. 37 lakhs with 24% interest to financier Uttam Chand.

 

25th November   

Maldives More Civil...

The Maldives repeals some of their criminal defamation laws
Link Here

Maldives flag The Maldives parliament has passed an amendment bill proposed by the government to abolish five articles in the penal code that criminalise defamation.

Of the 44 MPs in attendance, 34 voted in favour, seven against and three abstained.

The government proposed abolishing articles 150 through 166 of the penal code that deal with defamation. But this wider repeal was voted out.

In April, the prosecutor general's decision to pursue criminal defamation drew criticism from journalists, international press freedom organisation Article 19 and the South Asian Freedom Free Media Association (SAFMA). Earlier this month, the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) urged MPs to vote in favour of the bill as criminal defamation was a barrier to press freedom and inhibited responsible journalism.

 

22nd November   

Arya 2...

Supposedly vulgar song winds up the nutters
Link Here

India flag Allu Arjun's latest film Arya-2 , which is all set for release, is courting controversy now.

Aghast people representing several organisations have raised objection to the song Ringa Ringa in the movie terming it as vulgar and degrading women .

Social and women's organisations are finding the song Ringa Ringa obscene, vulgar and indecent.

They felt that the song is creating a shy and shame feeling for everybody who heard it and wanted a stern action against the producer and the director for releasing such song.

In a letter to the Film Censor Board, Lok Satta Party's legal cell convener CVL Narasimha Rao requested the authorities concerned to seize all cassettes and CDs apart from taking stern action against the producers and the music company. He also wanted deletion of the song from the film when it came for film censor certification failing which he warned them that the party would initiate legal proceedings against the Censor Board and also the producers. Several other women organisations also expressed shock over use of the alleged vulgar song.

Update: UA

27th November 2009. See article from indiaglitz.com

The Censor Board has given UA (suitable for children accompanied by adults) for Sukumar-directed Arya2. The film has just completed its post-production works and was viewed by the Board.

The run time of the movie is 2 hours and 33 minutes. The film belongs to the genre of romantic story and it has most double entendres in one song.

The film is releasing on November 27 and it stars Allu Arjun, Kajal Agarwal, Navdeep and Shraddha Das. It is produced by Aditya Babu.

 

8th November   

Ban Happy...

Sri Lanka censor bans 100 films
Link Here

Sri Lanka Over 100 movies from India, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka and Europe which were imported to Sri Lanka have been stamped as unsuitable for screening by the censor board, Censor board Chairman Asoka Serasinghe told Daily Mirror Online.

Another 250 films are due to be screened to examine their suitability to be released by the board. He added that cinema owners who screen these Malayalam, Hindi, Sinhalese and English films with a different name after they have been banned will have their cinemas sealed.

He also said that all police stations have been notified, and told to inform the board if such instances take place. Further the censor board in a new move is to request the assistance of the public to bring illegal screenings in cinema halls to the notice of the police.

 

8th November   

All Fired Up...

Indian film director speaks of double standards
Link Here

India flag Director Bala has expressed his displeasure over the double standards of the regulatory authorities on the publicly displayed content in a TV channel. He was referring to the censor board's cuts in his film Naan Kadavul . Quite a few lines of dialogues in the film had to be muted according to the board's recommendations as they allegedly described very violent actions. Most of these dialogues were the ones spoken by Rudran, the character played by Arya, who is an Aghori. Aghoris are found in Kasi and are known for their ritual of eating corpses off the funeral pyre. This was the reason behind quite a few of Rudran's dialogues being muted.

But now, almost eight months after the movie's release, director Bala has expressed his annoyance. This is because of a program that has been aired on a TV channel recently which explicitly shows the images of Aghoris picking out corpses from the pyre in Kasi. Bala is reportedly angry over such visual content being aired on TV channels, which is watched by a large number of people, while dialogues depicting the same were not allowed in his movie. He has felt that this is clearly a case of double standard and that his freedom of expression had been unfairly curbed.

 

4th November   

Zed Grade Whinge...

US nutter lays into supposedly lax Indian censors
Link Here

Rajan Zed The acclaimed hindu sound byte leader is calling on Indian censors to get tough on vulgarity and violence in Bollywood.

Strict religious heads have asked Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) officials to review India's Cinematograph Act over fears standards are slipping. Rajan Zed, the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, says, Seeing the continuous increase in the unnecessary vulgarity and violence in Indian films, it appears that the board has lost the sense of India's cultural milieu and is ignoring directions.

We are fully supportive of the artistic freedom and expression and we do not want any unnecessary censorship ...BUT... we're highly concerned about the increasing presence of the explicit scenes in the movies which were there simply for mercantile greed, and have nothing to do with cinematic elements.

Zed has asked CBFC chairperson Sharmila Tagore to view the films as a regular Indian mother who was struggling to raise her children to become moraland successful citizens, and not as the mother whose children attend nightclubs and late-night parties.

He adds, The Cinematograph Act lays down that a film has to be certified keeping morality in mind, besides other things. Whatever happened to the CBFC guidelines for certification, like human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity?

 

3rd November   

Candyfloss Cinema...

Madhur Bhandarkar's Jail cut by the Indian censors
Link Here

Jail poster Madhur Bhandarkar's Jail receives U/A certificate from the censor board after the film was edited several times to satisfy the monitors of Indian cinema.

The censor board had objection with actor Neil Nitin Mukesh's nude scene in the movie. Bhandarkar told Headlines Today that the scene had to be edited three times before it got the approval of the board.

The nude scene was followed by a dialogue that the board wanted to use its scissor on.

The censor board also had objection to a certain scene in which Mugdha Godse has done a little bit of a skin show.

Reacting to the objections raised by the censor board with his yet-to-be released movie, Bhandarkar said, If this way the censor board curbs the right of the filmmaker, then I should only make candyfloss cinema now. I find it difficult because the kind of films that I make -ranging from Chandni Bar to Fashion - is real cinema.

Bhandarkar told Headlines Today that in all six to seven cuts have been made in the movie before he could get the U/A certificate from the censor board.

 

2nd November   

Update: Free Bangladesh!...

Bangladesh bows to Chinese censorship and sends police to close photo exhibition
Link Here

Freedom Exile Autobiography Holiness Dalai Bangladeshi authorities called in police over the weekend to prevent the opening of a photographic exhibition about Tibetans in exile that Chinese diplomats wanted banned.

The photojournalism event had been organised by Students for a Free Tibet with support from the Drik network. Dhaka Special Branch police officers moved in to bar visitors after the head of Drik, Shahidul Alam, refused to cancel the event.

Entitled Tibet 1949 – 2009, the photo exhibition intended, to portray, in whatever small fraction, the journey of Tibetans from their homeland to exile. The exhibition was expected to run from 1-7 November.

According to reports from www.mediahelpingmedia.org Alam had earlier been contacted by Qian Kaifu, Cultural Counsellor of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Bangladesh, who asked him to cancel the exhibition, suggesting that the Bangladesh-China relationship would be affected if the show went ahead.

Alam says he was offered partner opportunities in China in return, but reminded Mr Kaifu that Drik was an independent gallery, unconnected with the government of Bangladesh. Alam says he was called the next day by the Bangladesh ministry of culture saying China is a friend, you mustn't show pictures of the Dalai Lama. When he declined again, the Special Branch were called in.

 

22nd October   

Updated: Puckered Out...

India bans the kissing in Hollywood romance between Indian prime minister and the Viceroy's wife
Link Here

Indian Summer The Indian government has ordered that love scenes between characters based on its first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten, the wife of Britain's last Viceroy, be deleted from a new Hollywood film of their romance.

Officials revealed they had given permission for the film Indian Summer , starring Hugh Grant and Cate Blanchett, to be filmed on location in India on the condition that scenes showing the couple in bed, kissing, and dancing, are deleted.

Another in which Nehru declares his love for Lady Mountbatten is also understood to have been deleted.

The script was vetted by a committee of senior government officials who were concerned it portrayed Nehru in a poor light.

The film, which is due for release in 2011, is based on Alex Von Tunzelmann's book Indian Summer, The Secret History of the End of Empire , which tells the story of Nehru and Lady Mountbatten's intense and clandestine love affair during the Mountbattens' return to India for the handover and partition in 1947.

The nature of Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten's relationship is still hotly contested in India, where many prefer to believe the lonely widower and the adventurous Vicereine were devoted but platonic friends.

Update: Postponed

22nd October 2009. Based on article from independent.co.uk

News that British film-makers planned to lift the lid on one of the most sensitive chapters of the last days of the Raj - the love affair between Edwina Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru - sent waves of panic through the modern-day Indian establishment when it was announced earlier this month.

The Delhi government, of which Nehru was the first prime minister following independence in 1947, demanded scenes be rewritten and depictions of physical intimacy be banned in exchange for granting permission to film. But now it seems it need not have worried about stepping in to safeguard the reputation of the founding father of the world's largest democracy - at least until the recession blows over.

Universal Pictures has postponed plans to start filming the adaptation of Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire by the historian Alex von Tunzelmann, according to Variety magazine.

Due to star Cate Blanchett as the amorous English aristocrat, with Hugh Grant as her socially ambitious husband the last viceroy, studio bosses are said to have baulked at the $30m to $40m (£18m to £24m) price tag for the venture with Working Title Films.

Director Joe Wright, who had hoped to start filming on location in India next year, said the budget pressures in a difficult market had added to the already troublesome conditions of shooting a major film in India and forced the delay. It was claimed he had considered going ahead on a reduced budget of less than $30m, but decided to hold on for the extra cash with Universal.

We were in between a rock and a hard place, he said. The Indian government wanted us to make less of the love story while the studio wanted us to make more of the love story.

 

16th October   

Update: Widest Possible Consultations...

Getting nowhere in long lasting debate about Indian TV regulation
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

I&B logo Despite its active participation in content regulation on Indian TV, the information and broadcasting ministry has suggested independent regulation by private players.

The government feels that there must be some sort of independent regulation. Every country has it but India doesn't. We have so many channels but no regulators. It doesn't make sense to us that we should be sitting over it (content regulation), said I&B ministry Joint Secretary Zohra Chatterji.

The content code has layers - self regulation and peer evaluation followed by independent regulation. The broadcasters came to us to leave it to them for some time. Above all, the prime minister has already made it clear that it (if anything is done by I&B) shall be done only after the widest possible consultations, she added.

 

4th October   

Update: Human Values Stripped Away Forever...

Indian judge decides that 'vulgar' TV has destroyed India
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India flag Calling for a powerful moral guardian for the society, the Madras high court has favoured a stringent censor mechanism to vet television programmes that contain violence, obscenity and vulgarity.

Justice R Regupathi, quashing defamation proceedings initiated against actor Vijay in various courts of Tamil Nadu observed: The most dangerous trend is, there are certain channels which exclusively air music and fashion programmes with semi-nudity and adult content, and school-going children, who have free access to remotes, get to view such channels. Their character and psychology is hardened at a tender age...and it is feared that good behaviour, human values and moral standards would be stripped away forever.

He was passing orders on the petitions filed by Vijay, producer of Sivakasi AM Rathinam and its director Perarasu, who sought quashing of over a dozen defamation proceedings initiated by advocates in different courts. Advocates, represented by S Prabakaran, claimed the film scornfully ridiculed the legal profession. During the hearing, the crew apologised for the scenes and said objectionable portions had already been deleted.

Recording the apology, the judge quashed the complaints, but with an observation: The film industry too has social and moral responsibilities... Of late, it is irritating to note that corruptive, pointless and irresponsible messages are being conveyed through movies in the name of entertainment.

Justice Regupathi lamented that most of the movies, documentaries, serials, music and dance programmes televised ceaselessly contained obscene, vulgar and violent scenes, besides promoting supernatural and superstitious beliefs. In such a critical situation, clear and stringent censorship guidelines for TV programmes must be laid down, he observed.

He said: The need of the hour is, apart from scrutiny of films, there should also be a close monitoring of television programmes so as to check lapses and to instantly initiate steps against transgressors. Such a governing body should be powerful, unbiased and mindful of its role and responsibility as a moral guardian of the society.

 

18th September   

Updated: Pervez Saved...

Student jailed for blasphemy in Afghanistan is freed
Link Here

Save Pervez Twenty months on, and with more than 100,000 signatures from Independent readers seeking his release, Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, the Afghan student sentenced to death for the ‘crime' of downloading information on women's rights, is free.

The Independent has learned that he is now living outside the country after being secretly pardoned by President Karzai.

Kambaksh was moved from his cell in Kabul's main prison a fortnight ago and kept at a secure location for a few days before being flown out of the country. Prior to his departure, he spoke of how his relief was mixed with deep regret at knowing he was unlikely to see his family or country again.

Only a handful of people were aware of the intensive diplomatic negotiations which took place behind the scenes to get Kambaksh out of jail, details of which cannot be revealed to protect those, Afghans and foreigners, who were involved.

According to senior officials Karzai has been well aware of how Kambaksh's case was reinforcing the negative image of his country abroad but also had to be mindful of not being seen to be bowing to Western pressure. Now his role in rectifying something which was widely seen as a miscarriage of justice will be lauded by the West, human rights groups and progressive opinion in Afghanistan. But he will face opposition from religious conservatives, which may prove electorally costly if there is a second-round run off at the polls.

Update: Angry Mullahs

9th September 2009. See article from independent.co.uk

Conservative and religious groups in Afghanistan reacted with fury yesterday to the news that Sayed Pervez Kambaksh, who was sentenced to death for promoting women's rights, has been freed.

After President Hamid Karzai secretly pardoned the 24-year-old student, hardliners called for an urgent ulama, a meeting of Islamic scholars, to organise protests against the decision.

Maulavi Hanif Shah Hosseini, a prominent mullah, declared: Kambaksh committed a crime against the Koran and the people who conspired so that he escaped the law have also committed a crime.

All the decisions to help this man who disrespected Islam are coming from the foreigners. But the decision to follow along with this came from Karzai and the Afghan government and we disown them. We are going to call for a gathering of the ulama to decide what to do. We are not going to make a big stand against this and any trouble will be the fault of people who helped Kambaksh.


Qari Rahmatullah, MP for Kunduz, said: This just shows that our country is not independent. Our policies are dictated by outsiders. Why should a man be allowed to insult Islam and then just walk away? And he added: Good Muslim people will be unhappy about this and Mr Karzai will have difficulties if the voting [in the election] goes to the second round.

Update: Angry Parliament

18th September 2009. Based on article from smh.com.au

Afghanistan's upper house of Parliament has condemned the presidential pardon of a journalist sentenced to 20 years in prison for downloading an internet article about women's rights and Islam.

The upper house expresses its strongest concerns and annoyance and considers this decision contrary to the Islamic values and the laws in place in the country, said the statement signed by the speaker of the upper house.

It called on Kambakhsh to serve his term, and said that those convicted of apostasy and hatred of Islam must be punished.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said last week the case would be remembered as a miscarriage of justice marked by religious intolerance, police mistreatment and incompetence on the part of certain judges. Kabul must ensure that blasphemy is no longer used to bring politically motivated charges and to suppress free expression , it added.

 

17th September   

Public Disharmony...

Call for Indian film to be banned for showing muslims as violent and antisocial
Link Here

Baabarr poster A case has been filed in the Bombay High Court seeking a ban on the film Baabarr , released last week, for alleged negative portrayal of Muslims.

Questioning the censor board's clearance to the film, petitioner Amar Hussein Mukeri, a Mumbai-based businessman, has alleged that certain characters and incidents are clearly identifiable with real life personalities and the screening of the film may lead to public disharmony.

Contending that the Central Board of Film Certification should not have cleared the film for public viewing even with an adult 'A' certificate, the petitioner has objected to the depiction of Muslims as violent and antisocial.

Seeking an immediate ban on the film, the petitioner said it has hurt his religious sentiments and would evoke similar feelings among fellow Muslims.

The case will come up for hearing on September 17.

 

12th September   

Censorship Mores...

Indian censors set up meeting to discuss revising their rules
Link Here

CBFC logo India's Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni has convened a meeting of the Central Board of Film Certification and the nine regional boards in mid-October to study the whole gamut of film censorship and the possibilities of revising the Film Censorship Guidelines.

Ministry sources told indiantelevision.com that the meet will discuss all issues relating to film censorship in the light of various directives of different courts and changing mores in society.

The meeting may consider the suggestion – made first by an earlier Chairperson Anupam Kher and now by Sharmila Tagore – for permitting adult content on television in late night or early dawn hours.

When it was pointed out that some regional boards had as many as 150 members, the sources said the CBFC only had 25 people and there was no objection to the regional boards having more members as long as these were people representing all sections of society who understood cinema. In any case, the rule was that a minimum of five persons should be present whenever a film is screened for censorship.

 

5th September   

Update: Public Tranquillity Restored...

Indian state unbans book about the founding of Pakistan
Link Here

Jinnah-India Partition book The high court in the Indian state of Gujarat has ordered the government to lift the ban on a controversial book on Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

The book was written by Jaswant Singh, a leader in India's Hindu nationalist main opposition party, the BJP. The party subsequently expelled him.

But two social activists from Gujarat challenged the ban in court.

The state government said it had banned the book for defamatory references to India's first home minister who is a political icon in his home state of Gujarat.

While banning the book last month, the Gujarat government had said that Singh's book Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence was objectionable, misleading and against public tranquillity.

But the Gujarat high court said that the government had not read the book before imposing the ban. The court said the government had not applied its mind to arrive at the opinion that the book was against national interest and would affect public peace.

 

3rd September   

Religious Censors...

Super censors make Bollywood listen and comply
Link Here

Charandas Chor poster Enter the super censors. Religious censors are forcing Indian filmmakers to arrange pre-release screenings and modify their movies pre or even post release, with the filmmakers readily complying to avoid bombs going off, street protests and all kinds of trouble.

Not even the Censor Board can evoke such compliance from our Bollywood types. In fact, this authorised body gets a much more belligerent response when it does object to something, with filmmakers crying hoarse about the need to do away with censorship in a democracy, and how they don't understand why the body can't keep up with the changing times. Is the censor board becoming increasingly marginal to the process of censorship?

It was objections by Sikh bodies that made Vipul Shah reshoot portions of Singh Is Kinng , with the ‘guidance' of Sikh leaders, and Akki had to prostrate himself at the Rakabganj Gurudwara in Delhi to ask for forgiveness for the sin of making the film.

Jo Bole So Nihaal ignored such ‘objections' and got a few bomb blasts for it.

Other Examples:

  • Dil Bole Hadippa
    The Sikh community is protesting against – 1) The use of the Sikh small turban, 2) Rani's character being portrayed as strong but foolish, 3) Promos depicting it as a tale of turbans, twists and tricks.
     
  • Love Aaj Kal
    Objections were raised by the Sikh community to Saif's trimmed beard in the film and a few romantic scenes set in a gurudwara.
     
  • Kambakkht Ishq
    Hindu Jan Jagruti Samiti said the song Om Mangalam includes lyrics of a religious song, which was deemed offensive
     
  • Kaminey
    Priests at the Jagannath temple have alleged blasphemy, and the Jagannath Sena Sangathan has filed an FIR against the director and producers. There's a scene in the film in which ‘Apna haath, Jagannath' is written on a toilet door, with a photograph of a scantily-clad woman alongside.
     
  • Jo Bole So Nihaal
    There were two blasts at a couple of Delhi halls after the SGPC accused the film of misusing a Sikh religious term and showing a Sikh character being chased by scantily clad women

 

28th August   

Not So Fair Sects...

Charandas Chor banned in Indian state of Chhattisgarhi
Link Here

Charandas Chor poster An Indian state government has succumbed to an unreasonable demand by a specific interest group, and banned a work of art. This time, it is the acclaimed play, Charandas Chor (Charandas, the Thief), by the late Habib Tanvir.

The play is in Chhattisgarhi, the language of one of India's newest states, Chhattisgarh, which was carved out of Madhya Pradesh.

The state government banned the play because a sect called the Satnam Panth, or the followers of the true name , protested against the play, saying it showed their beliefs in a bad light.

Satnami Panth emerged in the 19th century, comprising about a sixth of Chhattisgarh's population. They reject Hindu idolatry, placing faith in a guru (a hereditary title), and are made up of socially-disadvantaged groups from the state.

This ban is strange on many levels. Firstly, Charandas Chor has been around since 1974, and it has already been made into a critically-praised film by Shyam Benegal, one of the leading directors of the Indian new wave of the 1970s. Secondly, the cast of the play in various productions over the year has been made up of local actors, several of whom have been Satnamis. Over the years no one has objected to this play. Another point is that a character in the play speaks the offending lines, but that does not make those opinions facts , nor do they reflect Tanvir's view; even if they did, this should not matter. Finally, it once again demonstrates the state's acquiescence to any group of aggrieved individuals, by banning a controversial work, thus narrowing the space of public conversation in India.

 

22nd August   

Title Registration Committee...

Indian censors object to the word 'sex' in a film title
Link Here

India flag Filmmaker Dibakar Banerjee is having a tough time getting a title for his new film.

He wants to register Love, Sex aur Dokha as the title for his next film but it seems 'sex' is still considered as an obscene word in Bollywood's dictionary.

We were told that Love Sex aur Dhoka is obscene or there are certain obscene issues in it and it has to be looked into and that is what we found little surprising because we didn't know that there was another body outside the censor board which can deny you or grant you title on the basis of obscenity, says Banerjee.

The filmmaker has appealed to the Title Registration Committee for reconsideration, but they don't seem to be in a mood to relent.

Committee approves a title on the basis of the affect the title would have on the society, says Title Registration Committee convenor Vikas Mohan.

 

21st August   

Partitioned Opinions...

Indian state bans book about the founding of Pakistan
Link Here

Jinnah-India Partition book Authorities in the western Indian state of Gujarat state have banned a controversial book on Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Jinnah-India, Partition, Independence has been written by Jaswant Singh, an expelled leader of the Hindu nationalist main opposition party BJP.

The BJP government in Gujarat said it banned the book for its defamatory references to Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first home minister.

The late Mr Patel is a political icon in his home state of Gujarat. Described often as the Iron Man of India , Patel played an important role in the country's independence and the integration of the different states in the Indian Union.

The book has been banned because it contains defamatory references regarding Vallabhai Patel who is considered as the architect of the modern India, a statement by the Gujarat government says.

Jaswant Singh said he was saddened by the banning of the book in Gujarat: The day we start banning books, we are banning thinking .

The book was released earlier this week and immediately created a controversy. The BJP dissociated itself from the book and sacked Singh from the party.

 

17th August   

Beeping Censors...

Indian censors get easily offended by strong language
Link Here

Kaminey CD The Indian Censor board has decided to flex its muscles and whether it is a small film like Shadow or a biggie like Kaminey , no one is going unnoticed when it comes to abusive language.

The most recent and high profile censoring that has happened is for the film Kaminey where Shahid Kapoor's voice has been beeped when he mouths the word 'har**mi'. While he is allowed to utter words like 's**le', 'kutte' and 'kaminey' in a single breath, Censors have felt that 'har**mi' won't really be required in the scheme of things.

For lesser known film Shadow , it is even worse. A harmless item number with the usual combination of babes and booze has been shown the red flag. So out go words like 'sharaab' and 'shabaab' with beeps adding on the musical notes of the song.

Update: 15 Rated Scoundrels

17th August 2009. See decision from bbfc.co.uk

The BBFC have just passed the UK cinema release s 15 uncut. They explain:

KAMINEY (SCOUNDRELS) is a Hindi language thriller about a pair of twins who become dangerously involved with the Mumbai underworld. The film was classified '15' for 'strong violence, threat and hard drug references'.

The film contains several scenes of strong violence, including the disturbing, stark image of a young female found dead with bloody injuries around her throat, lying face down on a bed, as well as the realistic and horrific sight of bloodied corpses scattered around a train in a particular scene. The film is, in fact, more violent than just a few individual moments and the final half and hour of the film is intense and presents a sense of strong threat until the end of the story.

The BBFC guidelines on threat at '12A' state that 'moderate physical or psychological threat may be permitted, provided disturbing sequences are not frequent or sustained'. The latter half of this film is stronger and more sustained in terms of tension and the dark tone, so it is more appropriate at '15', where 'strong threat is permitted'.

The film also contains several images of hard drugs (ie. cocaine, white bags of powder), as well as references and one very strongly implied image of a man snorting cocaine.

There is also one subtitled use of strong language, which does not challenge the '15' classification.

 

17th August   

Winding up Censors, Muslims and Hundus...

Black Widow passed with cuts on appeal against the Indian censors
Link Here

Black Widow trailer Director Dinkar Rao's film Black Widow – The Land Bleeds is up for release after a long struggle with the Censor Board.

This film, which is set against the backdrop of communal riots in India, completed its shooting way back in 2005 but was banned as senior police officers objected to its release claiming it would create a law and order problem.

Rao, however, approached the Appellate Tribunal. The Appellate Tribunal passed the film but with almost 25-50% cuts in the riot scenes and the rape sequences. There were 10 audio cuts. This was one of the most frustrating periods, recounts the director.

Black Widow is a one night story of a Muslim woman called Zoya, played by Ratna Malay, and her interaction with others including a right wing leader.

Though the film was highly appreciated at its special screening at the Cinecitta Studious where the audiences felt that the subject has been treated in a balanced way unlike the overdramatic approach of most Indian filmmakers, it has met with equal resistance from right wing Hindus and certain Muslim groups besides, of course, the Censor Board.

We have faced problems from right wing Hindus (because a character in the film looks like Raj Thackeray) as well as fanatical Muslims whenever we have had any screenings. But what happens to Zoya is happening to many women all over the world. It could be Mumbai, Gujarat, Iraq, Kashmir, Afghanistan or anywhere in the world,
defends Dinkar.

 

12th August   

Copy Cat Censors...

India court temporarily bans film accused of plagiarism
Link Here

Poran Jay Jaliya Re poster The Calcutta High Court has passed an interim order banning the screening of the Bengali film Poran Jay Joliya Re in cinemas of the state.

The producer of Hindi blockbuster Namaste London, Vipul Shah , had moved the court seeking a ban on the Bengali film stating that it was an exact copy of his film and hence violated the copyright law.

Justice Nadira Patheriya, who passed today's order, had said last week that she wanted to see both the films.

The film, at present, is being screened in 115 halls across the state. This is the first instance that a Bengali film has been dragged to the court for plagiarism and banned too.

 

11th August   

Update: Control Facility...

India considers adult TV throughout the day given parental controls
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

I&B logo With broadcasters and the government close to working out a new content code for television, foreign movies with partial nudity and mature content may soon be allowed at all time bands on digital addressable media platforms like direct-to-home (DTH) services, conditional access system and IPTV platforms, which have the provision of a parental lock.

Currently, all foreign language films, even after adult certification from their country of origin, have to get approval from the Indian censor boards. To get the nod, they invariably have to undertake re-editing of the objectionable portions in the films, in accordance with the existing programme code under the cable TV law.

The existing analogue cable services may also be allowed to show adult content on television (foreign cinema to start with) but from 11 pm to 4 am only, as a broad consensus is being arrived at on the draft content code between the government and broadcasters, pending resolution for over two years.

This comes after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) re-started discussion on the new content code with broadcasters. Government sources say at the most three to four more meetings will be required to finalise the code, that will replace the existing one, adapted from the guidelines drafted for Doordarshan decades earlier.

 

8th August   

Censorial Waterworks...

Censors put a dampener on the Indian film Thambiudaiyan'
Link Here

Thambiudaiyan still Thambiudaiyan' , a film based on the Cauvery River water dispute has been banned by the Central Board of Film Certification. The examining committee, which viewed the movie, distanced itself from the content and treatment of the film and refused to issue the clearance certificate that is mandatory for the theatrical release of the film.

The treatment and the manner in which the issue is resolved is unacceptable to the examining committee and we refuse to certify the film, said Babu Ramaswami, regional officer, Censor Board.

Directed by debutant producer-cum-director Raja Mahesh, the film, shot in the delta regions of the Cauvery belt in Tamil Nadu, portrays the hero as a one-man-army-cum-diplomat who resolves the river water dispute, which has triggered emotions in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

For years, politicians have engaged in a war of words every time water is required, but no one looks at what farmers go through when the issue fades from newspaper headlines, said Mahesh, adding, My film highlights the need for a permanent and speedy solution to the problem of sharing of river waters.

However, the examining committee has taken exception to the way in which the issue is resolved in the film (a minister's wife and daughter are kidnapped and the authorities have no option but to open the pipelines).

Update: Muffled

4th September 2009. See article from sify.com

The film Thambivudayan has now been cleared by the Revision Committee of the Censor Board with a U/A certificate.

Director Rajaa Mahesh said: They were not comfortable with the word ‘Cauvery', so I muted it wherever it appeared in the films dialogue. I can do little about it, but I'm sure people will understand my situation.

Mahesh is planning to release the film in September.

Update: Eating Rats

7th September 2009. See article from expressbuzz.com

The film was sent for censor approval. The filmmaker was given two choices: remove certain scenes or remove the word Cauvery.

We dubbed the movie all over again, removing the word Cauvery which figured 48 times, says Rajaamahes.

The film is said to have scenes showing farmers eating rats and squirrels due to food scarcity and the hero kidnapping a minister to seek a solution. The Board objected to these scenes too. With the river's name out of the picture now, these scenes get to stay.

 

5th August   

Update: No Jokers...

Pakistan gets wound up by jokes about its leadership
Link Here  full story: No Joking...14 years for mocking Pakistan's leadership

Pakistan flag Pakistan's Minister of Interior, Rehman Malik, recently announced a 14 year prison sentence for anyone found propagating SMS and emails ridiculing or making fun of the present Pakistani leadership and its elected government officials.

The statement issued by the Ministry of Interior actually referenced the Cyber Crime Act of 2009 which apparently may subject the violators to at least 14 years behind bars.

Since the start of this newly elected government, the local leadership, namely the President of Pakistan Asif Zardari and Minister of Interior Rehman Malik have been at the receiving end of some very hard hitting gutt wrenching jokes, which in turn a propagated across SMS's and emails like wildfire not only in Pakistan but also across the world.

Seeing their local leadership at the base of many hard hitting jokes, the government decided to take such critical offenders to task. Here lies a very important problem, it is surprising to note that the Cyber Crime Act does even not exist, the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Ordinance of 2007 ironically had no mention of any crime related to SMS's let alone sending and even categorizing humorous SMS's which may tarnish the image of the an unspecified local leadership, the maximum prison sentence in that bill was set at a maximum of 7-years [10-years if it involved a minor].

The statements made by Ministry of Interior were challenged, and the only official response that has been received till now that the correct draft has not yet been released to the public. It only seems that the politically motivated statement was more or less geared towards scaring the general public into submission and hopefully stopping political rivals from ridiculing them.

 

3rd August   

Press Freedom Caricatured...

India restores ban on magazine Junior Vikatan
Link Here

Junior Vikatan magazine The Madras High Court has restored a gag order against a Tamil magazine, Junior Vikatan , restraining the biweekly from publishing any article, news item, photograph or caricatures against Union minister A Raja. It also stayed the imposition of Rs 10,000 as case cost on the minister.

The present gag order was first passed by a single judge in April this year, when Junior Vikatan was carrying reports about the controversy relating to spectrum allocation by the Union ministry of information technology and telecommunications.

On July 20, Justice K Chandru vacated the prior restraint against the biweekly on the ground that there was no law empowering the state or its officials to prohibit or impose a prior restraint upon the press. He had said that any attempt to stifle or fetter criticisms will amount to political censorship and the Supreme Court has held such attempts as insidious and objectionable." The court had also imposed a cost of Rs 10,000 on Raja.

In his appeal, Raja and his wife MA Parameswari argued that the single judge had misdirected himself when he held that all the impugned news reports were not related to their private life. Noting that right to freedom of expression is not absolute, they said blanket approval of the right is too dangerous and will amount to violation of human rights.

 

1st August   

Update: No Smoking...

Smoking censors cut Indian movie
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Agyaat film poster Till yesterday evening, the team of Agyaat was worried if Censor board would come down heavily on the film. It's a 'supernatural thriller' or a 'horror flick' or a 'slasher'.

However once the film was shown to Censors, they happily passed it with just two cuts. Not just that, they also granted the film a U/A certificate.

The two cuts which have been made though are from the song Shiv Shambh '. The song has a few shots featuring a 'chillam' [an elaborate pipe like a hookah].

Says a source attached to the film: Censors felt that depicting such shots from the film would go against their anti-smoking stance. As per them, the song would have been better off if these two shots were cut. We also complied and didn't complain much. Yes, we do feel though that it would have been better had the song remained as it is since it's a part of a film being shot within a film. But then, it's ok.

 

31st July   

Update: Vulgar Politicians...

Indian minister suggests a TV censor along the lines of Ofcom
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

I&B logo There are debates going on in India to adopt a content censor, similar to the UK's OFCOM, in order to curb what is seen as a obscenity and vulgarity on TV and radio.

A parliamentary discussion in New Delhi saw India's Broadcasting Minister, Mrs Ambika Soni, state that such a body with some teeth was the only way to cut vulgarity on certain shows especially reality TV programming in the sub-Continent.

Soni suggested that the government would support the creation of such a body, membership of which would include key stakeholders in the media, lawyers and consumer organisations.

 

30th July   

Professor of Medieval Culture...

Indian university textbook seized, author and publisher arrested
Link Here

India flag The author and publisher of an Indian textbook, that carries a picture of Mohammad, were arrested in Uttar Pradesh for hurting the religious sentiments of people, police said.

Karan Singh, author of Udayimaan Bhartiya Samaj ke Shikshak (Teachers in Emerging Indian Society), and R.P. Singh, owner of Lakhimpur-based Govind Prakashan, were arrested in Lakhimpur, near state capital Lucknow.

Karan Singh is a retired professor of the Ram Manohar Lohia Awadh University.

According to officials, a case under the Section 295 A (acts intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) has already been registered against the author and the publisher.

Following an uproar among Islamic scholars and the clergy over a picture of Prophet Mohammad in an officially prescribed textbook of Ram Manohar Lohia Awadh University, officials seized about 700 copies of the text books. The textbook is prescribed for the B.Ed course run by the university.

Meanwhile, Muslim clerics have demanded constitution of a screening committee to check publication of such books in future.

 

29th July   

Update: Internet blocking in Sri Lanka...

Court orders blocks on the likes of redtube.com
Link Here  full story: Internet Censorship in Sri Lanka...Installing ISP website blocking

Sri Lanka A Sri Lankan court has ordered a dozen websites to be blocked for allegedly containing pornographic material involving local women.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) was asked to block access to the 12 websites, including redtube.com, an adult-content sharing portal, the Lankadeepa newspaper said.

There was no immediate comment from the TRC, which a year ago announced it was filtering websites showing obscene, pornographic and other sexually explicit material.

Colombo Chief Magistrate Nishantha Hapuarachchi said the censorship order was issued following a police complaint that some videos contained Sri Lankan women and children and that the free access to the sites corrupted society.

The websites' owners have 14 days to respond and if they do not, the TRC has been asked to continue blocking those sites, the magistrate was quoted as saying.

Sri Lanka already maintains an unofficial ban on websites of dissidents by getting local Internet Service Providers to block access to those portals.

Update: Wider Ban on Porn

31st July 2009. See article from humanevents.com

The Government is to propose tough new laws to curb adult movies, advertisements, publications containing obscene materials appearing in various forms in Sri Lanka.

Cultural Affairs and National Heritage Minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene at a press briefing in Sigiriya yesterday said that a decision had been taken after considering the harmful impact of such materials to society at large and its contribution towards the erosion of the social values in Sri Lanka.

In this regard, wider power would be relegated to the existing Censor Board to enact these proposed measures. Mobile service providers would also be advised to refrain from airing such materials.

The Minister also noted that the proposals in this regard would be submitted to the Cabinet shortly.

Update: Local Porn

12th August 2009. See article from business.avn.com

Sri Lanka's Criminal Investigation Department is investigating porn content created within the country, according to the Colombo Chief Magistrate.

The CID claims links between porn websites and locally produced material, reports the area's regional Daily Mirror.

Update: Demarcation Dispute

17th August 2009. See article from dailymirror.lk

Cabinet Spokesman and Media Minister Anura Priyadharshana Yapa yesterday said he was disappointed and displeased at the Cabinet Cultural Affairs Minister Piyasiri Wijenayaka had trespassed the purview of his cabinet portfolio in undertaking to control the telecast of films, Tele Dramas and Commercials.

He may be unaware of what he is doing. But it is unethical and against the collective responsibility of Ministers when he said he was to introduce legislation to control 'Adults Only' telecasts, Minister Anura Priyadharshana said.

 

22nd July   

Heard the One about the Sensitive President?...

Pakistanis face 14 years for jokes about the president
Link Here  full story: No Joking...14 years for mocking Pakistan's leadership

Zardari cartoon Pakistanis who send jokes about President Asif Zardari by text message, email or blog risk being arrested and given a 14-year prison sentence.

The country's interior minister, Rehman Malik, announced the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had been asked to trace electronically transmitted jokes that slander the political leadership of the country under the new Cyber Crimes Act.

Malik, said the move would punish the authors of ill motivated and concocted stories through emails and text messages against the civilian leadership.

The step, which was described by human rights groups as draconian and authoritarian, came after government was particularly riled by a barrage of caustic jokes being sent to the presidency's official email.

Zardari has proved to be prickly about what others say of him since he was elected as president by the national parliament a year ago. Most of the criticism stems from his government's inability to address problems such as severe power outages and inflation, and his inability to shake off old allegations of corruption.

The ban has become the focus of intense television debate in Pakistan, as Zardari's aides have attempted to justify the move using every argument ranging from counter-terrorism concerns to saying that women parliamentarians had received abusive messages.

 

22nd July   

Update: A Kick up the A...

Call for Indian film censor to be more gay friendly
Link Here  full story: Gay Freedom in India...India considers the legality of gay sex

CBFC logo Sridhar Rangayan is a gay activist, makes movies on issues confronting the community and is delighted with the Delhi High Court order decriminalising consensual gay sex between adults. Now, he feels it's high time the censor board also updates its rule book.

Rangayan has made three films on homosexuality -- the first is still lying with the censor board, the second he did not bother to submit for certification at all and the third has been accepted by the Central Board of Film Certification but with an 'A' [adult] certificate.

The censor board has rules which are antiquated and it's not accepting today's trend. I think it's time to fight to get the censor board rules changed. What we need is to have some young people as part of the core committee, Rangayan told IANS.

In 2003, he made Pink Mirror , which is said to be India's first film on drag queens. Though it has been screened at various NGO meets, it has yet to be screened in India: I approached the censor board thrice for the certificate and every time they rejected the movie. There is no nudity, titillation in my film. I have depicted my characters very sensitively, still I didn't get the certificate .

They had strange reasons to reject the film. They say that I have not depicted the gay community in good light. It was funny because I'm know the community very well. They wanted my characters to be apologetic for being gay. They wanted me to show characters crying and asking why god has made them like this, said Rangayan, who is founder of the Mumbai-based The Humsafar Trust that advocates gender and sexuality issues.

When Rangayan made his second film Yours Emotionally in 2006, he didn't bother to take it to the censor board and instead it screens it at NGO meets. The film is about two best friends - Ravi and Paul. The two come to India on a vacation and attend an all night gay party. Surprised by the openness of their hosts and the aggressiveness of the guests, the boys fall into the steadily growing Indian gay culture.

His third film 68 Pages , however, has got an A-certificate from the board and he is hoping for a commercial release.

Another director who has made a film on the issue is Ashish Sawhny. His Happy Hookers is a documentary that explores the secret world of male sex workers in the country.

Then there is US-based Indian filmmaker Manan Singh Katohora's When Kiran Met Karen . It is about a Bollywood actress called Kiran who is on the verge of becoming an international movie star until she meets sexy magazine journalist Karen and they find themselves swept up in a torrid affair.

None of these films have been released in India. As Rangayan says, perhaps we will have to wait till the censor board changes it rules.

 

3rd July   

Censorship Crime...

Indian film censor blames drop in quality of movies on censorship
Link Here

CBFC logo Excessive portrayal of violence in Kannada movies is one of the major reasons for the poor quality of films released by the film industry in the State, according to outgoing Regional Officer of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) A Chandrashekar.

Chandrashekar, who completed a five-year-term as Regional Officer of CBFC in Bangalore, said high percentage of crime and violence-based films produced in the State compared to other cities like Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Trivandrum.

The percentage of crime-based movies in Bangalore rose from 15.3% in 2004 to 24% in 2007.

Chandrashekar said the dip in the quality of Kannda films could be attributed to the Censor Board's strict policy against portrayal of violence and obscenity in films.

 

27th June   

Censorial Tits...

India blocks adult cartoon porn
Link Here

Miss India Part 2 India's government has banned the popular, and controversial, cartoon porn site Savitabhabhi.com.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology asked all ISPs to block the site.

The Controller of Certifying Authorities (CCA), a government agency that falls under the rubric of the Department of Information Technology, is tasked to block websites. There were several complaints against the site. We have taken action under the relevant sections of the IT Act and blocked the site, said N. Vijayaditya, of the CCA.

Concerns have been growing over upcoming amendments to the IT Act that would give the Indian government power to block any website, without allowing site owners/creators a legal hearing or naming their reason for doing so.

The year-old Savitabhabhi.com is an adult cartoon strip featuring a married Indian woman's hardcore sexual adventures. Considering the relative conservatism of the nation, the site was met with problems from its inception, despite its enormous popularity, evidenced by the more than 1 million weekly site visitors before the ban went into effect.

The site's owners are based in the EU.

Update: Save Savita

2nd July 2009. See article from hindustantimes.com

Savitabhabhi.com administrator, who goes by the username Deshmukh, has started a Save Savita website, Twitter stream and Facebook group.

Describing the block as selective internet censorship in a post on www.savesav-ita.com , Deshmukh has sought the help of Savita Bhabhi's fans, asking them to file a Right To Information request to find out why the website has been singled out among the plethora of pornographic websites.

 

26th June   

Update: No Safe Harbour in India...

Google India in legal challenge over responsibility for posts on the Blogger service
Link Here  full story: Supporting Internet Censorship...US multi-nationals support repressive censorship

Blogger.com logo Google India found itself in legal hot water over blog posts that included accusations against a prominent Indian doctor. Although the posts have since been pulled down, the company is trying to appeal a court decision that went against it by claiming it has no control over content on Blogger.

In the US, ISPs and companies that provide hosting services have a degree of protection from being held legally responsible for the actions of their users. These safe harbor provisions don't exist in the legal codes of other countries, however, leaving the local branches of US companies at risk of legal action. Google India found itself in precisely this situation, as it was the target of legal action by an Indian cardiologist Dr. Ashwin Mehta who claims he was defamed by posts hosted on Google's Blogger service. The Indian branch of the search giant is trying to defend itself from these charges by claiming that it has nothing to do with the US-based blogger service.

Mehata won his first round in court, and the posts have since vanished from Blogger. Nevertheless, Google India appealed the verdict, and got to make its first arguments in court . It appears that Google India's lawyers are trying out two arguments. The first of these is simply claiming that policing content on Blogger is practically impossible, given that it fields 2.5 million words a minute. The other is that Google India has essentially nothing to do with the Blogger service, which is run from servers residing in the US. In essence, any issue regarding the contents of a post hosted there is governed by the service agreement between Blogger and the individual user, which Google India isn't a party to.

 

2nd June   

Update: Ban on Movie Smoking Impractical...

A change of heart at the Indian healthy ministry
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

India flag India's Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad's view is that a blanket ban on smoking on-screen is not practical .

Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt said the film fraternity is with the nation in making people aware against the use of tobacco: I congratulate and applaud the Health Minister for his comments on smoking on-screen. Ghulam Nabi Azad is light years ahead of Ramadoss and he proved that action speaks volumes than words.

It is just entertainment. There are so many objectionable things which are shown on screen like murder, arson and so on...Then such things should be banned first...I think we should try to implement whatever we can, Azad had said on World No Tobacco Day.

Azad's comment is in sharp contrast to that of former health minister Anbumani Ramadoss, who wanted a complete ban on smoking in films and TV serials.

On the plea of Mahesh Bhatt and some other members of the film industry, the Delhi High Court had on January 23 said that smoking was a part of life and banning it would amount to the violation of the fundamental rights.

 

1st June   

Update: Boy Whingers...

Hindus call for worldwide boycott of Sony over Hanuman Game
Link Here  full story: Boy Warriors Censorship...Indian computer game under fire from Hindus

Hanuman: Boy Warrior game Perturbed over Sony's Hanuman: Boy Warrior videogame and further vexed by stiff-necked attitude of Sony officials, various Hindu groups have given worldwide boycott call against Sony PlayStation products.

Spearheaded by the ever whinging Rajan Zed, who said that Hanuman game trivializes the highly revered deity of Hinduism; various Hindu groups/leaders who have jointly given the boycott call include Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening in USA; Vamsi Krishna of Sanatan Sanstha of Australia and Hindu Janajagruti Samiti headquartered in India

Zed further said that immature handling of the issue by Sony, which is said to be a socially responsible and ethical corporation, saddened them. He also urged Sony to create a high-level check system so that denigrations like this did not happen in the future.

 

27th May   

Banning Before they can Walk...

Afghan planning censorship before they even get a worthwhile internet service
Link Here

Afghanistan flag The Afghan government is planning curbs on Internet use, starting with blocking pornography sites, as the country's first fiber optic cable is due to be on-line in weeks.

The communications and information ministries are studying limits on web access because the current free Internet environment is being misused in particular by the youth, claimed communications ministry spokesman Abdul Hadi.

We will mainly set limitations on pornography because it does not fit our Islamic values . In the second step, we hope to be able to also limit websites providing bad information, especially that could mislead our children , he said.

The information ministry confirmed it was drafting legislation to cover Internet use, which would include such curbs, and was also registering .af domains.

The Internet only came to Afghanistan after the 2001 ouster of the Taliban regime in a US-led invasion. The costs of Internet subscription are high compared to other countries in the region but a new fiber optic cable, the first phase of which is due to open next week, is expected to bring down the prices.

 

26th May   

Butt Headed...

Indian censors whinge about a bare butt in Pankh
Link Here

Pankh The Indian Censor Board has raised a strong objection to a scene in filmmaker Sanjay Gupta's upcoming flick Pankh . The scene has first time actor Maradona Rebello baring his butt. The board had also objected to certain other contents, including the use of abusing language in the movie.

Pankh directed by Sudipto Bhattacharya has been stuck with the censor board for the last three months. Incidentally, there is a man who is treated as a woman by his mother since childhood and subsequently confuses her about his sexuality! While the filmmaker has already deleted the offending scenes and beeped the abusive words that were objected to by the Board members, the problem stays about the scene where a male actor is completely nude in front of his mother and his rear is exposed to the audience.

Sanjay Gupta insists that this is an extremely important sequence that is integral to the film. So, he is unable to delete it. In the same context he adds. The producer hopes that the members of the censor board would soon be convinced of his stand and clear the movie for exhibition. You may also note that the censor board members have already watched the movie twice.

 

22nd May   

Surely Not in the National Interest...

Indian government seeks powers to censor internet content
Link Here

India flag The Indian government is seeking powers to censor news portals and other websites.

The controversial draft rules released this month empower a designated Central government officer to block public access to any information on the Net for wide-ranging reasons of security and national interest.

Sweeping powers to control the content on websites is being fleshed out in the rules drafted under the recent amendments to the information technology (IT) Act. Though it was passed by Parliament in December and the Presidential assent to it came in February, the IT amendment Act 2008 will not come into effect till the various rules drafted under its provisions, including the one on blocking public access to websites, are finalized.

Under the draft rules framed under section 69A of the IT amendment Act, every state or Central government department will be empowered to decide whether a certain news item, article, blog or advertisement relating to its jurisdiction is safe to remain on the Net.

Once somebody sends a complaint against any information displayed on the Net, the department concerned will take a call on whether the matter in question affects any of the six concerns mentioned in section 69A: interest of sovereignty or integrity of India, defence of India, security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order or incitement to commit any cognizable offence relating to the other five reasons.

If it is satisfied about the need to pull the challenged information, the department concerned will send a request to the designated officer at the Centre chosen by the secretary of the IT department. An inter-ministerial committee headed by the designated officer will recommend whether the request to censor the web site should be accepted or not.

If the IT secretary approves the committee's recommendation to take action, the designated officer will direct the intermediary or web host to block the offending information within the stipulated time. In the event of non-compliance, the designated officer can initiate criminal proceedings under section 69A, which imposes a maximum sentence of seven years on the web host.

 

12th May   

Sri Lanka's Tarnished Image...

Channel 4 news team deported from Sri Lanka
Link Here

Channel 4 logo A Channel 4 News team has been deported from Sri Lanka.  Asia correspondent, Nick Paton Walsh, tells what happened:

When Sri Lanka's defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, rang he got quickly to the point: Is this Channel 4? You have been accusing my soldiers of raping civilians? Your visa is cancelled, you will be deported. You can report what you like about this country, but from your own country, not from here.

Our 'crime' had been to broadcast a report from internment camps at the northern town of Vavuniya, which can only be reached with the permission of the Sri Lankan army. The army orchestrates the visits and escorts you wherever you go. But someone working for us had managed independently to get a camera into the camps and record a series of interviews. The allegations were startling: bodies left for days, children crushed in the rush for food, the sexual abuse of women, disappearances.

The day after the broadcast I went to the media centre for national security. There [military censor] Lakshman Hulugalle explained that I had damaged the country's image and would later hear of their 'measures' against me. Three days later came the call from the defence secretary.

 

9th May   

Update: Indian Censorship Anthem...

Censors tamper with song because song can't be tampered with
Link Here  full story: Boy Warriors Censorship...Indian computer game under fire from Hindus

Rann poster Ram Gopal Varma's upcoming movie Rann has run into trouble with India's Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refusing permission to air the movie's title track. The song in question is an altered version of the National Anthem which is not permissible.

Varma has changed the lyrics of the Indian national anthem Jana Gana Mana to Jana Gana Mana Rann hai in the movie. According to law, the national anthem cannot be tampered with.

 

8th May   

Update: Censorship Boy Warriors...

Sony reject hindu call to ban Indian video game
Link Here  full story: Boy Warriors Censorship...Indian computer game under fire from Hindus

Hanuman: Boy Warrior game Hindu groups protesting the recent release of Hanuman: Boy Warrior for the PlayStation 2 have apparently run out of patience with Sony.

A press release issued by head whinger Rajan Zed seems to indicate that Sony will not intervene in Hanuman 's distribution. Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening is quoted in the release:

So now we are left with no other alternative except to intensify our protests. Lord Hanuman is a highly revered Deity for us Hindus and we cannot accept any more denigration of Him...

We are shocked at the stubbornness of Sony Corporation not to withdraw the PlayStation2 game Hanuman: Boy Warrior despite our repeated requests. Sony Corporation is held in high esteem the world over with high ethical principles. We were expecting that Sony would not hurt the feelings of the one billion strong Hindu population for a minor product like this game.

 

6th May   

Entitled to Censor...

Indian film censor objects to the title 'Hit Him!'
Link Here

India flag An Indian Regional Board of Censor Certification has directed the makers of Hodi Maga (Can be vaguely translated as 'Hit Him!'), to change the title. The board has found the title very provocative.

This is the first time in the history of Kannada cinema that the Censor Board has asked to change the title.

Producer Rajkumar says that it is not the Censor Board's business to decide on the title of a film. 'The choice of title rests with the Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce. It's been nearly seven months since we started the film and the Chamber has not opposed this title. How can we change the title so suddenly when the film is on the verge of release, asks Rajkumar.

Our guidelines say that if the title of a film is provocative, vulgar or offensive, the Censor Board can recommend to change it. We are just following the guidelines. We found Hodi Maga to be too provocative. Apart from that there are a few changes after which are ready to give an 'A' Certificate for the film, says Censor Chief Chandrashekhar.

 

3rd May   

Updated: Censorship Demons...

Indian bishops offered the chance to ban Angels and Demons
Link Here  full story: Angels and Demons...Another Dan Brown film/book winds up the nutters

Angels and Demons poster India's Censor Board Screening Committee has now seen the film Angels and Demons and have not issued sertificate.

They have referred the film to a Revising Committee with the censor Sharmila Tagore and a panel of 4 catholic bishops.

Here is a press statement from Christian Secular Forum:

We have represented to the Censor Board, that in matter pertaining to Catholicism, the opinion of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) should be binding. The Censor Board has therefore asked for 4 representatives of the Catholic Bishops to see the film. The CBCI has also already written to the Censor Board calling for a ban on Angels & Demons . The ball is now in the Catholic Bishops' court. If after seeing the film, it recommends a ban - Banned it will it be.

We are also given to understand that the Censor Board wants the Church to settle for a Disclaimer.

Update: Angels & the CSF

3rd May 2009. Based on article from hindu.com

In a statement on Saturday, Joseph Dias, general secretary of the Christian Secular Forum (CSF) urged Catholic bishops to call for a boycott of the film.

It also filed a complaint with the Commissioner of Police, Mumbai, urging him to take action against officials of Sony Pictures on various counts.

The CSF submitted a memorandum to Central Board for Film Certification chairperson Sharmila Tagore, calling for wider consultations to further scan the film and ensure that it did not hurt the sentiments of Christians. Scenes depicting violence in churches should be removed and care should be taken while dubbing the film in other languages.

The earlier revision committee, which recommended a disclaimer and an A certificate, was based in the capital and not comprehensive enough, said Dias. If the film was not cut adequately to remove the objectionable scenes, the CSF would consider legal options, he warned.

 

2nd May   

US Blu-rays Zapped...

Indian court rules that it is illegal to distribute US DVDs without Indian film certificates
Link Here

India flag India's Delhi High Court has ruled that renting of imported American DVDs is against the law, the local Hindi daily Navbharat Times reported.

The court has ruled that if a movie rental shop bought CDs, DVDs or blue ray discs in bulk from American markets and put them in circulation in India, for renting, it would be violating a law.

The court said imported DVDs without license from the Indian Censor Board and copyrights documents could not be circulated in public.

It said that people could buy the CDs or DVDs from other countries for personal viewing at home.

The US firm Warner Bros. Entertainment has earlier filed a petition at the court requesting the ban of circulation of U.S. DVDs in India, saying it violated the copyrights of American movie producers.

 

1st May   

Vulgar Judgement...

High Court bans songs from popular Pakistani singers
Link Here

Naseebo Lal CD The Lahore High Court has imposed a ban on songs of two local female singers and sought a reply from Central Board of Films Censors and other respondents. Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry also issued notices to the singers to appear in court on May 25. The judge issued this order on a petition filed by Asif Mehmood Khan.

The petitioner had submitted that departments concerned and criminal elements were violating the law and the constitution and spoiling the morality of people by not checking the display of immoral songs. He said respondent female singers namely Naseebo Lal and Nooro Lal with the help of other respondents were making and singing indecent and immoral songs.

He said the protection given by the government to these singers under the Motion Picture Ordinance 1979 was illegal and against the values of Muslim society.

The petitioner pleaded that the impugned certification passed by the chairman and the secretary of the Central Board of Film Censors was illegal.

The petitioner handed over to the court video CDs and audio cassettes of supposedly indecent songs sung by the singers. He pleaded that the certification and exhibition of these songs was against the law and moral values of society.

The petitioner said that the Holy Quran prohibited vulgarity in songs and poems. He said vulgar songs created enmity in the hearts of religious scholars and ulema against the government as they thought that the government was patronising vulgarity.

He said the respondents had launched, cinematographed, advertised, published and exhibited these songs without any lawful jurisdiction and these songs were a threat to society’s values and morality.

The petitioner prayed the court to impose a complete ban on all audio/video songs of the two respondent female singers.

Update: Seeing Entertainment as Vulgarity

23rd July 2009. Based on article from dawn.com

Justice Ijaz Ahmed Chaudhry of the Lahore High Court has sought reports from the Punjab government and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) on measures to prevent ‘vulgarity’ in the name of culture as CDs of ‘obscene’ dances and dramas were being played unabatedly on cable TV networks.

The judge sought the reports after a law officer said during the hearing of a case against singers Naseebo Lal and Nooran Lal for singing ‘vulgar’ songs that cable TV channels were also spreading ‘obscenity’ in society by playing ‘immoral’ videos of dramas and dances but Pemra had not taken any action against them.

The court also directed the police to launch a crackdown on the elements involved in the business of spreading ‘vulgarity’ observing that as per constitution of Pakistan Islam and Sunnah was the supreme law of the land and no immoral activity could be allowed under it.

 

25th April   

Squeezing Credibility...

Supporting the breast squeezing hype for the Indian film Hostel
Link Here

Titty Twister bar Imagine a scene in which the film’s hero is told to squeeze the heroine’s breasts! No wonder the Indian Censor Board is in shock.

Filmmaker Manish Gupta, known for his hard-hitting films Matrabhoomi and The Stoneman Murders , has gone a bit too far in depicting realism in his next film Hostel . As the title suggests, the film revolves around a bunch of students living in a hostel.

There is a scene in the film where the characters played by Vatsal Seth and Tulip Joshi are ragged by their seniors. In this scene, one senior tells Vatsal to squeeze Tulip’s breasts.

The Censor Board was so shocked by the dialogue that they refused to give even an ‘A’ (Adults Only) certificate to the film. The director was straightaway told that such kind of dialogue would not be allowed in films.

Gauzing the gravity of the board’s reaction, Manish Gupta has now decided to change the scene. Now, the seniors will force Vatsal to kiss Tulip.

 

21st April   

Updated: Z Rated Whinging...

Indian video game with religious setting winds up the easily offended
Link Here  full story: Boy Warriors Censorship...Indian computer game under fire from Hindus

Hanuman: Boy Warrior game Hindus have urged Sony Corporation to withdraw the new Indian release Hanuman: Boy Warrior video game for PlayStation2, saying it trivializes the highly revered deity of Hinduism.

Perennial whinger Rajan Zed, in a statement from the US, said that in a video game set-up, the player would control the destiny of Lord Hanuman while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees. Controlling and manipulating Lord Hanuman with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Lord Hanuman was not meant to be reduced to just a character in a video game to solidify company/products base in the growing economy of India.

Zed explained that Lord Hanuman was greatly revered and his worship was very popular among Hindus and there were numerous temples dedicated to him. Son of wind-god, besides incredible strength and changing shape at will and flying, he was believed to be a perfect grammarian, great scholar and excelled in all the sciences.

Rajan Zed pointed out that as Sony was said to be a socially responsible and ethical corporation, it would effectively understand the feelings of Hindu community on this issue.

Zed suggested that until India came up with such organization, Central Board of Film Certification should be given the authority of rating and deciding whether the particular video game was suitable for public distribution in India.

Rajan Zed stressed that Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. Hindu tradition encouraged peaceful debates, won on their intellectual merit ...BUT... faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.

Update: Disrespectful & Disgraceful

21st April 2009. Based on article from webnewswire.com

More Hindus have joined the protest movement against Sony Corporation’s newly released Hanuman: Boy Warrior video game for PlayStation2.

The protest has now even extended to Australia, where Vamsi Krishna of Sanatan Sanstha found it very disrespectful, disgraceful and an insult to all those devotees of Lord Hanuman and followers of Hindu dharma.

Vamsi Krishna requested Sony to remove this video game with immediate effect from the market before this causes further unrest in the Hindu community worldwide and issue an apology to all those who have been hurt by this insensitiveness.

Meanwhile, Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening argued that using a sacred figure from Hinduism, namely, the Hindus' revered Deity, Sree Hanuman, as a character in a video game is highly objectionable to us Hindus worldwide.

Shinde urged Sony to withdraw this video game, Hanuman: Boy Warrior at the earliest, and publish an apology to the Hindu community and Hanuman devotees worldwide. She requested all distributors and sellers of video games to exclude Hanuman: Boy Warrior.

 

19th April   

Send Your Pink Chaddis to Facebook...

Facebook prove to be a failure in defending campaign group from hackers
Link Here

Pink Chaddi poster I have written before about the brilliant Pink Chaddi Campaign and highlighted the important role played by Facebook in helping the campaign go viral.

Briefly, journalist Nisha Susan set up The Consortium of Pubgoing, Loose, and Forward Women on Facebook and urged women to gift pink panties to Pramod Mutalik, the head of the ultra-conservative Hindu group Shri Ram Sena, in order to shame him into backing down from his threats to disrupt Valentine’s Day celebrations.

The campaign has become one of the best Indian examples of how a grassroots community can come together, collaborate and take collective action using social media tools.

The Pink Chaddi Facebook Group has been getting hacked throughout last month, and, instead of dealing with the hackers, Facebook suspended both the group and Nisha's account last week.

Before the group was suspended, the hackers changed the name of the group to A Good Bong is a Dead Bong and posted vulgar and violent messages on the group.

In an open letter to Facebook posted Nisha wondered if the first rule of Facebook activism is to not use Facebook.

 

18th April   

The Democracy of Death Threats...

Christian journalist under duress in Pakistan
Link Here

Aaj Kal logo A Christian journalist in Pakistan has received death threats after publishing articles calling for greater democracy and for refusing to convert to Islam.

George Masih who writes for the Lahore-based newspaper Aaj Kal, wrote a number of columns which provoked the ire of Muslims.

Last August, he wrote a column entitled The Nation should wake up now. In the autumn he wrote a further three columns entitled The Sunrise of Democracy, The Triumph of Democracy and I am Pakistan. The articles were aimed at promoting religious tolerance and democracy in Pakistan.

Masih claimed to receive the first threatening letter late in October from the Islamic Tanzeem Organisation, which threatened dire consequences for him and his family if he did not become a Muslim.

In December, Masih said he received another letter in which the senders directly threatened to kill him and his family if he still did not convert.

At first he ignored the threats, but as more threatening letters came he sought police protection. The police at first refused to take action but were later ordered by the Session’s Court Lahore to act on 11 February of this year.

This Easter George and his family were in hiding for fear of attacks as no suspects have been detained yet.

 

30th March   

Badmouthing Arbitrary Censorship...

India censor's inconsistent approach to strong language
Link Here

Gulaal soundtrack CD Out of the five movies which released over the weekend, three of them had one thing in common - liberal usage of swear words. Whether it was Straight , Firaaq or Barah Aana , each of the films had it's protagonists using swear words in abundance. However, the surprising part was to hear the beep sound every now and then in Barah Aana . So while Censors did allow Straight and Firaaq to retain the words in the final print, when it came to Barah Aana , it was a different approach altogether.

Says a source from the unit of Barah Aana on condition of anonymity, The film had taken a realistic route and the words were not used for mere affect but because they went with the day to day language of the characters. There was nothing that was forced or added on just for the sake of it. However, we didn't have any other alternative but to beep the words. The audience did eventually get the context but still such beeps do break the narrative.

Straight and Firaaq were fortunate enough to have the words being retained. In case of Firaaq though, it is understandable since the film dealt with a real issue and the situations demanded a liberal use of cuss words.

However, what came as a surprise was to see the four letter F word being mouthed in at least a couple of scenes in Straight . Not just that, when Vinay Pathak is instigated by Gul Panag to give it back to the Brits who used foul language in abundance in one of the sequences, the former went on to show that he is ‘the real man' by using the choicest of Indian expletives.

In fact if one looks at the releases in the month of March, Censors have indeed become liberal when it comes to usage of foul language. Gulaal which released a fortnight back didn't leave anything to imagination when it came to cuss words. One wonders though why Barah Aana didn't get a similar treatment and instead suffered from a step-motherly treatment!

 

25th March   

Update: The Right to Bare Arms...

Afghan TV station manager arrested over short skirts on TV
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Afghanistan flag The manager of an Afghan television network who refused to censor images of women dancing in short skirts and plunging necklines has been arrested.

The government has previously censured television stations and taken others to court, but the arrest of Emrose TV's Fahim Khodamani was the first for airing overly salacious content, the Afghan deputy attorney general said Tuesday.

Since the Taliban fell in 2001, television stations have flourished, pitting the issue of freedom of the press against conservative norms in a country where most women wear clothes that cover everything but their face and neck.

Aggressive Afghan government attempts to censor TV programs could be part of a strategy to temper conflict with the Taliban. Or it could be an attempt to siphon support from Afghans drawn to the Taliban's conservative style of Islam.

Many Afghan TV stations cut or blur scenes with women showing more than their face or neck, taking a conservative stance to avoid violating a vague government law that prohibits media content that is not within the framework of Islam.

Khodamani was arrested for refusing repeated requests to pixelate or otherwise obscure images of women dancing in short skirts or outfits with low necklines, said Deputy Attorney General Fazel Ahmad Faqiyar. The videos are relatively tame by Western standards.

The arrest comes days after Afghanistan's top Muslim clerics called on the government to block stations from airing prohibited and hypocritical anti-Islam programs and immoral scenes and movies.

 

25th March   

Domestic Dispute...

Indian censors cut out the domestic violence in Videsh
Link Here

Videsh poster Filmmaker Deepa Mehta seems to have become the favourite child of controversies. Deepa Mehta's new directorial venture Videsh has run into bad weather regarding censorship issues.

In a screening session, Censor Board felt that Videsh , a movie based on domestic violence, portrays too much violence on Preity and thereby asked for cuts to make the film less gruesome.

A representative of Deepa Mehta wanted a U/A certificate for the movie but the Censor Board was unrelenting. Videsh shows several violent scenes between Preity and her on screen husband actor Vansh Bhardwaj.

According to the Regional Officer of the Censor Board Vinyak Azad, “We have asked them to tone down the domestic violence scenes by 50%. And we had one more objection. The film has used expletives too, which will have to be either beeped or deleted.

 

15th March   

Updated: Geocensored...

Pakistan silences independent news channels
Link Here

Geo News logo Amid widespread civil demonstrations and a growing political crisis, Pakistan's largest independent news broadcaster, Geo TV, has been removed from cable carriers in five major cities, Managing News Editor Azhar Abbas told CPJ.

Aaj Television, another independent broadcaster, was also taken off cable in major cities today but was restored later in most places, according to Talat Hussain, the station's executive director for news and current affairs. Hussain said Aaj was still not being carried in several smaller markets.

The stations' signals started being dropped around 7:30 p.m. local time, Abbas and Hussain said. The stations became aware of the situation when viewers called the newsrooms asking why they could no longer see the channels. Abbas said Geo's signal had been removed from carriers in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Rawalpindi.

Where they remained on the air, the two stations were moved to less prominent positions not available to most cable viewers, they each reported.

Cable operators contacted by Geo TV said government officials had ordered them to drop the station, a directive they felt compelled to follow. This is the same tactic we saw under the Musharraf government. Nothing has changed, Abbas told CPJ.

Update: Minster tenders resignation over censored TV news

15th March 2009. Based on article from newstrackindia.com

Pakistan's information minister Sherry Rehman on Saturday resigned from her post for her differences with the government over the handling of media.

The setback came a day after PPP-led Pakistani government blocked the telecast of Geo and Aaj TV channels in major Pakistani cities in an annoyance over the coverage of protesting lawyers and opposition parties' point of views by the media.

President Asif Ali Zardari's spokesman however, denied that she had resigned. Media reports say Prime Minister Gilani has not yet accepted her resignation. Even her ministry has not yet confirmed her resignation.

Earlier, a Paris based Media Rights Body, Reporters Without Borders, has demanded immediate transmission of News channels, stating: We urge the authorities in Islamabad to restore transmission of Geo News and Aaj TV without delay. Such crude censorship will in no way help to resolve Pakistan's political crisis.

 

15th March   

Update: Burkhas Off at Dawn...

Afghan TV station defiant of government censorship threats
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Afghanistan flag A new private Kabul television station, Emrooz, has made a name for itself by airing entertainment and music programs mainly focused on youth.

But the upstart broadcaster's quest for ratings has earned the wrath of authorities, with prosecutors accusing it of undermining Afghan society's traditional Islamic values and influential detractors threatening to revoke its broadcast license.

Critics are upset at the station for broadcasting scenes and clips of immodestly dressed women, notably Tajik and Indian singers and dancers.

Emrooz staff were questioned by Kabul prosecutors this week.

Fahim Kohdamani, a program editor at Emrooz, tells RFE/RL that station managers were repeatedly summoned by the Information and Culture Ministry before their case was referred to the Office of the Prosecutor-General.

Emrooz is the only Afghan television that does not censor music clips, Kohdamani says: We air video clips by Tajik, Iranian, Afghan, Indian, and even sometimes Arab and European music clips that show female and male performers signing and dancing. The Ministry of Culture has always had this problem with us.

Emrooz producers insist they have violated no laws but are being forced to choose between overly aggressive self-censorship and even more rigid censorship by government agencies.

Despite Emrooz's pending legal wrangle, and the threat of a lost television license for the station and lost freedom for some individuals within the company, Emrooz appears defiant.

The station is launching a national search for male and female models. The show will be broadcast monthly, with more than 2,000 contestants competing for two top prizes over four months. It will be Afghanistan's first publicly declared fashion program -- and it has already incurred threats.

But Emrooz executives, defiant in the face of such threats, say they will continue to break down taboos -- even if they must pay a price for doing so.

 

12th March   

Censorship Anthem...

India censor rejects Gulaal but passed after cuts on appeal
Link Here

Gulaal soundtrack CD Anurag Kashyap's ambitious film, Gulaal , will finally see the light of the day. After being rejected outright by the Censor Board for its volatile contents, the revising committee has given the film a go-ahead with four cuts and a A (adult) certificate.

A source close to the production house said: The film was stuck with the Censor Board for three days posing a question mark over its release. The film then went to the revising committee who raised objections in four scenes. Anurag understood their point of view as he did not want to invite controversies.

Confirming the news, Vinayak Azad, Regional Officer, Censor board says, Yes it is true that the revising committee has asked for four changes. References have been made to Mahatma Gandhi and the national song, ‘Jana gana mana', which were objectionable. I would not like to elaborate any further as I have not seen the film. However, from whatever I have gathered from the board members, they have asked for the cuts as per the guidelines and Anurag and the producers too have agreed to it.

Director Anurag Kashyap said, In a scene, a mad man says ‘Gandhiji' when he sees a man with round frames, the word Gandhiji has been deleted. Then there was a scene about our national song, ‘Jana gana mana', which was also chopped. Apart from that there were minor cuts like a shot where the brand of a cigarette is visible. The Board is strict about not showing the brand names of any cigarette or alcohol. That's about it.

 

10th March   

Update: Supreme Injustice...

Afghanistan's Supreme Court upholds 20 year blasphemy sentence
Link Here

Save Pervez Afghanistan's Supreme Court has upheld a 20-year jail term for blasphemy handed to Afghan journalist Sayed Parwez Kambakhsh, who claimed men and women were equal.

Kambakhsh's brother said the family had just learned of the closed-door ruling delivered a month ago in the absence of Yaqub Kambakhsh, his lawyer or family members, the Information Safety and Freedom media watchdog reported.

We thought there would be some justice in the capital of Afghanistan and even at the highest level of the judicial system, wrote Yaqub Kambakhsh in a letter sent to Information Safety and Freedom: But their silent decision seems that first of all there is no justice in Afghanistan at any level. Kambakhsh is the latest victim.

Twenty-eight year-old Kambakhsh's troubles began in 1997, when he wrote in his blog that extremist mullahs had distorted the true meaning of Islam's holy book or Koran: If a Muslim man may have four wives, why shouldn't a wife have four husbands .

He was arrested on blasphemy charges in the northern town of Mazar-i-Sharif in 2007 and in October that year a local court condemned him to death

The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment following pressure from international human rights organisations.

 

4th March   

Sexy Mama...

Indian censors get wound up by the movie 13B
Link Here

13B poster The song Sexy Mama, in forthcoming horror film 13B has wound up the Indian censor.

The censor board objected to the song and it will now be known as Crazy mama .

The horror flick has been directed by Vikram K. Kumar and stars R. Madhavan and Neetu Chandra.

Thankfully, the change in words will affect only television promos of the song since the number will remain intact in its Sexy Mama in the film.

We had applied for a censor certificate for the promos to be beamed on satellite channels. They objected to the word 'sexy' and were willing to grant an ‘A' certificate, which meant that the song could be played only during late nights, said Preeti Puri Sharma of BIG Pictures, who are producing 13B .

There is another twist to the tale as well. Since the film is a bilingual and has been made in both Hindi and Tamil, it required a separate certificate for the Tamil version.

But the censor board was far more liberal for the Tamil version and were fine with the entire song without any cuts or beeps.

They have their own way of operating. The Tamil song doesn't see any word being replaced and plays on as ‘Sexy mama'. Anyway, we are okay with the visibility that the song is getting, regardless of a change in word, said Sharma.

Similarly, different yardsticks seem to have been used for the certificates as well. While the Hindi version carries an ‘A' certificate, the Tamil version has been granted a ‘U/A' certificate.

13B is set to release March 6.

 

3rd March   

Offsite: Freedom of Defamation...

Freedom of Expression in an Intolerant India
Link Here

ShivSena logo The Indian blogosphere is abuzz with discussions on freedom of expression after the Supreme Court refused to throw out Shiv Sena's defamation case against 19 year old computer science student Ajith D.

However, the Indian blogosphere's reactions to the controversy are mostly based on reports on the incident in Indian media and the quality of this reporting has been very mediocre, with few details and little background information. As a result, bloggers are reacting to incomplete information. As a result, bloggers are reacting to incomplete information.

So, before I do a roundup of the Indian blogosphere's reactions to the story and share my own views, let me present the basic facts.

...Read full article

 

15th February   

Offsite: PixelAsian...

Afghan TV stations find censorship line is blurry
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in Afghanistan...Afghanistan TV, an unsuprising target for censors

Tolo TV logo The young Afghan woman in a headscarf spends all day staring at other women's bodies and Hindu idols on her computer screen, then covering them up.

It's Laila Rastagar's job to turn Indian and Korean soap operas into family viewing in this conservative Muslim country. Dual flat-screen monitors illuminate the 22-year-old's face in the dark cubicle as she draws a blurry square with her mouse to obscure a collarbone, then a kneecap, then a Buddha statue.

She's one of a crew of such editors employed by Tolo TV, Afghanistan's most popular station, to censor shows in an attempt to balance its programming at the intersection of radical Islam, traditional values and the West.

...Read full article

 

14th February   

Harassment with Impunity...

Press under duress in Nepal
Link Here

Nepal flag Last month, Uma Singh, a Nepali reporter, was stabbed repeatedly by a gang of around 15 unidentified men in her home in Janakpur, southern Nepal. To this day, no motive has been identified, although IFEX members fear she may have been targeted for her work. Some of her articles made waves in the region, particularly those in which she criticised the caste and dowry system or the ongoing violence in the Terai region, where armed groups have been fighting for the establishment of an autonomous Madhesi state.

Singh's death sparked an emergency international media mission to Nepal on 5-8 February, which found that press freedom in Nepal continues to be threatened - despite the hope that democratic rule introduced last year would improve the situation.

According to the Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), a staggering 342 press freedom violations were recorded in 2008, including a significant escalation in the number of physical attacks on journalists and media houses whose perpetrators go unpunished. This does not so much represent a rise in attacks on the media but a change in the nature of the attacks, more of which are being committed by non-state actors, says ARTICLE 19.

The authorities are failing in their duty to prevent, punish and redress the harm caused by such attacks, said the mission. Take the case of journalist, Prakash Singh Thakuri, who has been missing since July 2007. Late last year the government withdrew charges against his accused kidnapper, who was released on bail.

The mission also reports that not a single person has been convicted for a criminal act against journalists and media houses.

The mission says the ongoing attacks are having a chilling effect on press freedom, with journalists and media being forced into self-censorship, seriously jeopardising the peace and democratisation process currently underway in the country.

 

10th February   

Update: Late in the Day...

India still discussing grown up TV
Link Here  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

I&B logo Adult content may be back on TV with the information and broadcasting ministry considering a proposal to be more liberal, government sources have said.

If the adult programmes return, however, they will be allowed only between 11pm and 4am. Programmes beamed at any other time must be appropriate for viewing by children, the proposal under discussion says.

The government had banned adult content on television in 2006, allowing only programmes that had a “U” certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for unrestricted public exhibition.

Its notification said that no film, or film song or film promo or film trailer or music video or music albums or their promos, whether produced in India or abroad, shall be carried through cable service unless it has been certified by the CBFC as suitable for unrestricted public exhibition in India.

The current rethink has been prompted by suggestions from a committee set up to review the Programme and Advertising Code under the Cable Television Network (Regulation) Act and the guidelines for certification of films under the Cinematograph Act.

The adult content will be restricted to films and music videos with “A” certification, the official added, saying: Adult content need not mean pornography.

 

10th February   

Update: Editorial Integrity...

BBC World Service to be withdrawn in Sri Lanka due to local censorship
Link Here  full story: BBC Censored in Sri Lanka...Sri Lanka jam BBC broadcasts

BBC Workd Service logo The BBC World Service is to suspend its FM programming on the Sri Lankan national broadcaster following a row over censorship.

The corporation has accused SLBC of deliberate interference after it blocked news reports and programmes in English, Sinhala and Tamil on 17 different occasions between 27 November and early January.

On some occasions SLBC censored whole current affairs segments of BBC programming, compromising its editorial integrity, the corporation said.

The BBC World Service today confirmed that it will suspend services from tomorrow.

Director Nigel Chapman said: We have no choice but to suspend broadcasts until such time as SLBC can guarantee our programming is transmitted without interference.

In order to cover news events in the most comprehensive and balanced way for our audiences, the BBC adheres to specific editorial values that include impartiality, editorial independence and seeking a relevant range of views on any topic.

 

6th February   

Update: Birth of Censorship...

Cinema censorship introduced in Nepal lest films dispute the birthplace of Buddha
Link Here  full story: Banned in Nepal...Bollywood film banned in Nepal

Chandni Chowk to China DVD Nepal's Ministry of Information and Communication has issued some new regulations for screening of national and international movies.

According to the new provisions, producers or distributors should take permission from Nepal Film Development Board to screen any film.

In case of international films, English translation of the film's script should be submitted to the Censor Board and the film can be screened only after the approval of the Board.

The ministry has taken such decision following recent protests of a Bollywood movie Chandni Chowk to China which mentioned that Lord Buddha was born in India.

 

4th February   

Obscene Policing...

Indian Judge dismisses police charges against kissing couple
Link Here

The Kiss A court in India has dismissed criminal proceedings against a married couple charged with obscenity for allegedly kissing in public in the capital.

Police arrested the couple - a 28-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman - for kissing near a station last September.

The police in Delhi had begun criminal proceedings against the couple for sitting in an objectionable position near a metro (railway station) pillar and kissing due to which passersby were feeling bad.

Judge S Muralidhar quashed the criminal proceedings. He said that even if police reports were accurate it is inconceivable how... an expression of love by a young married couple would attract an offence of obscenity and trigger the coercive process of law.

The judge expressed surprise that the couple had been picked up and charged by police despite officers being told that they were married.

The lawyer who contested the case for the couple told a Delhi newspaper: Obscenity charges are attracted when an act is so obscene that it encourages depravity or annoys the public. In this case both these contents are missing, because the charge sheet is silent on any passers by as originally claimed.

 

3rd February   

Update: Dogs of War...

High Court asked to get the title changed of Slumdog Millionaire
Link Here  full story: Slumdog Millionaire...Slumdog Millionaire film gets world attention

Slumdog Millionaire poster The controversy over the title of Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire has moved on to court.

Gujarat High Court has allowed the petitioner,  the organisation Dastak, to draw in the Central Board of Film
Certification.

The NGO filed the case on the day the film's released claiming the title was offensive to Indians. We Indians are not slumdogs, stated its member Meena Jagtap in the petition adding that the organisation doesn't have objection towards the content of the film.

The case has been filed against the Hollywood film company Fox Searchlight and the music company T-series. Earlier, a similar case raising same contention was filed by a Patna resident.

Dastak has urged the court to restrain the film's exhibition in cinema halls, television and CDs. Besides this, a stay has also been sought on the marketing and advertising of the film in Indian market. Dastak has requested High Court to direct the film company to get certification once again after changing the film's name.

 

3rd February   

Name Calling...

Indian blogger silenced by TV station for criticism of their Mumbai terrorist coverage
Link Here

New Delhi TV Armed Chyetanya Kunte is an Indian blogger living in the Netherlands. On 27th of November, 2008 during the terror attacks in Mumbai he wrote a blog post (now available through Google cache) criticizing Indian private television channel New Delhi Television (NDTV) and particularly their group editor Barkha Dutt's coverage of the incident.

Several other bloggers were equally scathing in their criticism of Barkha Dutt's sensationalistic coverage of the 11/26 Mumbai terror attack, accusing her of broadcasting sensitive information about the position of hostages and security troops, sensationalizing the news coverage, and being borderline hysterical, in general.

In turn Barkha Dutt' wrote on her Facebook page:

Just because some random bloke can sit at a computer and make up stuff doesn't mean he or others like him need to be dignified with responding to their utter and total rubbish. rubbish is what it is. And as already mentioned. Mr. Kunte has been served a legal notice for libel by NDTV. That should give you some indication of where we and I stand. The freedom afforded by the Internet cannot be used to fling allegations at individuals or groups in the hope that they will then respond to things that aren't worthy of engagement.

And indeed legal papers were served on the blogger forcing him to delete his blog and apologise.

Other India bloggers were not impessedby the NDTV bullies. Blogbharti posts an appeal:

We urge all bloggers to send us their views on this issue. And to protest NDTV's highhanded efforts to curb our freedom of speech.

 

28th January   

Update: Dogged Protests...

Slumdog Millionaire offends the residents of Patna slums
Link Here  full story: Slumdog Millionaire...Slumdog Millionaire film gets world attention

Slumdog Millionaire poster Armed police guard cinemas in eastern India after slum dwellers ransacked a picture house showing Slumdog Millionaire because they didn't like the use of the word "dog" in the title.

Several hundred people rampaged through the cinema in Patna, capital of the eastern state of Bihar, and tore down posters advertising the film. They said the title was humiliating and vowed to continue their protests until it was changed.

The protest was organised by Tateshwar Vishwakarma, a social activist who filed a lawsuit over the title last week against four Indians involved in its production - a lead actor, the music director and two others.

Referring to people living in slums as dogs is a violation of human rights, said  Vishwakarma, who works for a group promoting the rights of slum dwellers. We will burn Danny Boyle [the film's British director] effigies in 56 slums here.

On Thursday, about 40 Mumbai slum dwellers, organised by another social activist, held up banners reading Poverty for Sale and I am not a dog outside the home of Anil Kapoor, one of the film's stars.

 

28th January   

Update: Respecting Freedom BUT...

Pakistan muslims ask for UN protection for islam
Link Here

Pakistan flag Speakers at a seminar in Pakistan urged the UN to take stringent measures to force respect of every religion and formulate laws to stop blasphemy against Islam.

The West needs to change its view of Muslims, they said at the seminar titled World Situation, Peace and Religious Leaders organised by Mir Khalilur Rahman Memorial Society (MKRMS) in collaboration with Jamiat Ulema-e-Ahle Hadith.

Dr Babar Awan said Muslims belief was incomplete without belief in all messengers of Allah and respect of all heavenly books. He said Muslims respected West’s freedom of expression ...BUT... were deeply grieved and angered on the blasphemy of their Prophet and the Quran committed with blatant callousness by the western leaders in the name of freedom of expression. He said freedom of expression had its limits in the West and it must never damage religious feelings of any human being, adding that Muslims would never tolerate the blasphemy of the prophet and other sacred personalities.

He said that the world needed to change its view of Muslims, and to search for the reasons which led to the present day confrontation. He asked the UN to legislate to stop blasphemy and disrespect of religions which, he stressed, was essential for world peace.

Bishop Samuel Azriah said the need of the hour was to promote the message of love, peace and humanity since all religions called for respect and honour of other religions and to protect lives of those practicing other faiths. He said it was the collective responsibility of the entire world especially religious leaders. He warned that dangers of extremism were lurking and the world should try to understand the extremists and attempt to win over them.

Qazi Abdul Qadeer Khamosh said Islam strictly forbids killing of innocent people and exploitation of others. He expressed sorrow that Islam was being tarnished by demolishing schools and suicide attacks. He criticised the present policies of the government as ‘faulty’, saying suicide bombers could not be stopped by force but negotiations and other peaceful methods must be used.

 

27th January   

Nepalling...

Bollywood film banned in Nepal over birthplace of Buddha
Link Here  full story: Banned in Nepal...Bollywood film banned in Nepal

Chandni Chowk to China DVD The Bollywood film Chandni Chowk to China has been banned in Nepal because of a scene suggesting the Buddha was born in India, officials say.

Siddartha Gautama, who became the Buddha around 2,500 years ago, was born in what is now south-western Nepal.

Many Nepalis revere the Buddha and have been upset by the film. Protesters have burned tyres in the capital, Kathmandu.

The ban comes even though the offending scene has been cut from the film in Nepal at the request of the censor.

We've banned the screening of the movie in theatres across the country considering the growing public protests over controversial remarks in the film, home ministry spokesman Nabin Ghimire told AFP.

The film is a Bollywood co-production with the US studio, Warner Brothers. It tells of a lowly Indian chef who is mistaken for the reincarnation of a fabled Chinese warrior. Its official website says that it is the first ever Bollywood kung-fu comedy.

A spokesman for the ministry of information told AFP that while the offending scene had been deleted, it could not be removed from pirated DVDs and videos that are smuggled into the country. The spokesman said that the foreign ministry had also been asked to take immediate steps to stop any unedited screening of the film in other countries.

 

26th January   

Update: Bollyban...

Court case starts to restore Pakistan ban on Indian films
Link Here

Pakistan flag The Lahore High Court has issued notices to the chairman of Pakistan Central Board of Film Censors (PCBFC) and a Deputy Attorney General in a case regarding exhibition of Indian films.

The applicants requested the court to declare the exhibition of Indian films in Pakistan by PCBFC as illegal.

Applicants prayed to the court to cancel the censor certificates issued by the board and restrain it from issuing further certificates.

In this case, PCBFC secretary had already filed a reply saying that it changed rules through which a film produced by foreign countries other than India despite having Indian cast could be exhibited in the country to facilitate film importers and to revive cinema industry. In order to revive Pakistan's cinema industry, which was declining day by day, the federal government made an amendment in the Rule 10 under which films produced by other countries containing Indian or Pakistani Artists could also be brought into the country, he said.

 

24th January   

Update: Healthy Decision...

Indian court stubs out smoking censorship
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

India flag In a setback to Health Minister A Ramadoss' anti-tobacco campaign, the Delhi High Court today quashed the Centre's ban on smoking scenes in films saying it is a reality of life and any censorship on its depiction would violate creative artistes' fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, who passed the order as an umpire judge after a division bench had given a split verdict on the issue, struck down the Centre's October 2006 rules banning smoking scenes in films and TV programmes A cinematographic film must reflect the realities of life. Smoking is a reality of life. It may be undesirable but it exists. It is not banned by any law, Justice Kaul said in his 50-page judgement passed on the petition of film director Mahesh Bhatt challenging the Centre's notification.

Any form of censorship is an inroad on the freedom of expression apart from the fact that censorship is highly subjective and can be essentially mindless, the court said adding: To per se depict such an act without glamourising it or promoting any particular product cannot be prohibited as it would bar a representation of how life is." The court said that restrictions imposed by the government would hamper artistes who indulge in creative acts such as film-making.

 

17th January   

Update Million Dollar Question...

Slumdog Millionaire at the Indian censor
Link Here  full story: Slumdog Millionaire...Slumdog Millionaire film gets world attention

Slumdog Millionaire poster India's release of Slumdog Millionaire' s English and Hindi version have been given separate certificates by the Censor Board.

The film's English version Slumdog Millionaire bagged an A certificate and its Hindi dubbed version, Slumdog Crorepati , bagged a U/A certificate [Children allowed if accompanied by adult].

A source informs, There is heavy use of swear words in the film, hence its English version received an A certificate. But when the distributors brought the Hindi dubbed version for censorship, they had already muted the Hindi swear words and so it managed to get a U/A certificate.

So while the English version of the film will have a restricted audience due to the explicit use of swear words, its Hindi version will have a scope for a wider reach.

The film is releasing on 23 January in India with approximately 200 prints.

 

15th January   

Emergency Censorship...

Indian government proposes complete media control during times of emergency
Link Here

I&B logo The proposed changes in the Cable Television Network Regulations Act, currently under the consideration by the Indian government, have been put on hold after the broadcasters rose up in arms against the move.

The broadcasters have been assured by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that any changes in the Act would be taken up for finalisation only after the widest possible consultation with all the stakeholders.

The broadcasters have termed the proposed changes as a move by the government to bring back media censorship like during the period of the Emergency.

The Editors Guild, a body comprising top editors of broadcasting and the print media, has opined that the move should be resisted, as the editorial content of a broadcaster should be the sole prerogative of the editor concerned..

Various political parties, including the BJP, CPM and Samajwadi Party, have thrown their weight behind the broadcasters: It is imperative that TV channels evolve a code of self-regulation which ensures that anti-national elements would not able to take advantage of the freedom of media in the country.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has recommended changes in the law to allow government to dictate television coverage during contingency situations. The proposal would make it mandatory for channels to carry only authorised video footage.

 

14th January   

An Illusion of Nudity...

Indian censors in a lather about Raaz 2
Link Here

Raaz soundtrack CD What is the point of giving a film an adults only ‘A’ certificate if a scene has been censored, asks Mukesh Bhatt, the producer Raaz — The Mystery Continues , to release on January 23. He plans to approach the revising committee of the censor board for a rethink.

In the offending scene , Kangana Ranaut is having a bath in her tub, the ghost spooks her, she jumps out, covered in soap suds. What is wrong with the scene? You don’t have a bath with your clothes on! exclaims Bhatt. Kangana is not even nude, she is wearing a bodysuit. But the censor board says that the bodysuit is not enough, because it creates the illusion of nudity.

The actress declined to comment but a source close to her says that Kangana is surprised at this furore, because she feels it gives the impression that the scene is being used as a publicity stunt: She is surprised, because the scene only shows her bathing and she gets scared and hops out of the bathtub. There is nothing obscene.

Bhatt feels that either the board should retain the scene and give it an ‘A’ certificate or chop it and give a ‘UA’ certificate. What is the use of an ‘A’ certificate after chopping a scene? They want to give it an ‘A’ certificate because there is horror content, but I feel that an adult has certain sensibilities.

 

13th January   

First Nude of Indian Mainstream Cinema...

Supporting the hype for Rang Rasiya
Link Here

Rang Rasiya poster Nandana Sen’s nude scenes in the much anticipated Rang Rasiya (Colours of Passion), directed by Ketan Mehta. In the west, they would scarcely draw comment. But as far as mainstream Indian cinema is concerned, Nandana has been brave enough to boldly go where no Indian actress has gone before.

In order to play the painter Raja Ravi Varma’s muse, Sugandha, opposite Randeep Hooda, she knew from the start that quite a bit of nudity was essential if the film was to work artistically. The nudity, Nandana insists, is more than appropriate. It is the heart of the movie. The emotional drama of the film, as well as the political, focuses around it. She has no doubt it’s a first for Indian cinema.

The film has a very strong story to tell and a very important point to make, both of which rely on those scenes entirely, argues Nandana. What’s even more remarkable is that it is the first time that the Indian censor has passed those scenes without asking for a single cut.

 

13th January   

Update: Smoked Out...

India starts giving adult ratings for films with smoking scenes
Link Here  full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

No Smoking Indian Regional Censor Board officials are tightening the screws on smoking scenes in Tamil cinema.

Ever since Dr Anbumani Ramadoss assumed office as the Union Minister for Health, he was urging actors not to feature in screen smoking. Moreover, a public ban on smoking was implemented.

Going a step further now, the Censor officials have been instructed to hand over adult certificates even if there are a couple of smoking scenes in a film.

According to director Rajesh who is directing Siva Manasula Sakthi : my film has been certified UA despite it being a breezy family entertainer. There are four instances when characters smoke in the film. The officials at the censor board said they have been instructed to do so.

 

10th January   

Update: Ban Banned...

Maharashtra state ban on film Deshdrohi rescinded in court
Link Here

Deshdrohi soundtrack CD Bollywood may not have been very hot on Kamal Khan's Deshdrohi , but the industry certainly is very happy with the court's verdict that prevents the Maharashtra state from curbing a film-maker's freedom of expression.

Kamal Khan, the producer-actor of the film, said, I am happy that the court has rapped the state by calling the ban illegal and said freedom of expression of a film-maker should not be curbed as the censor board has cleared the movie and given it a `U' certificate. The court has also said the government misused Section 651 under the pretext that the film would cause law and order problem. He now plans to start the publicity for the film, which will be release on January 23.

Vinayak Azad, regional officer, censor board, said, The film was cleared with a `U' certificate by the appellate tribunal. The state had imposed the ban and it's got nothing to do with us.

Deshdrohi is a film based on north Indians migrating to Mumbai which had created a controversy in the state. The Maharashtra government had imposed a two-month ban on the film fearing backlash from the Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and others if it was allowed to be released in the present format.

 

10th January   

Naked Criticism...

Indian newspaper publishers jailed over religious tensions
Link Here

Karavali Ale B.V. Seetaram and his wife, Rohini, who head the media group Chithra Publications in Karnataka state, southern India, have been in judicial custody since Sunday in connection with two-year old criminal charges relating to their newspapers.

Police told Seetaram the arrest was in connection with criminal charges lodged against them in 2007 for offending the sensibilities of a religious group in articles published by two of Chithra's Kannada-language dailies, Karavali Ale and Kannada Janantaranga .

We are concerned that the arrest of these media owners, which coincides with attacks against one of their newspapers, is part of a campaign of harassment because they have dared to take on a sensitive religious issue, said Bob Dietz, CPJ Asia Program Coordinator: We call on authorities to drop these criminal charges and ensure the safety of our colleagues.

The original complaint was filed in March 2007 by a practitioner of the religion Jainism, shortly after the newspapers published articles questioning the right of Jain leaders to appear naked in public, according to national English-language daily The Statesman. The couple spent a total of 10 days in jail in 2007 before being freed on bail. Seetaram characterized those arrests as harassment, and said that Karavali Ale had exposed links between the Jain community, a bus company allegedly carrying out illegal activities, and local police.

Tensions between religious groups run high in Mangalore, and newspapers are often accused of contributing to communal disharmony with provocative or one-sided coverage, according to the popular current affairs blog Churumuri.

 

9th January   

Update: Naked Rage...

Ghajini movie winds up Indian nutters
Link Here

Ghajini soundtrack CD It's arguably the biggest box office hit of 2008 but the recent movie Ghajini is kicking up quite a storm. A storm that has ended it up in the Bombay High Court.

According to the petitioner Pratibha Nathani, the Aamir Khan starrer is sending out a wrong message. She says scenes of naked rage could have a destructive effect on impressionable young minds.

Hence Nathani has urged the court to change the film's rating from "U/A" to the adults only rating "A".

It is not only violent but the kind of violence that is shown against a woman is quite explicit. She is shown in the pool of blood after her head is hit, it is very objectionable. There are incidents in the film, which hurt you, said Pratibha Nathani, Petitioner, nutter and social activist.

After reviewing Ghajini , the censor board did delete some scenes that were part of the original Tamil film. It was only then it was given the U/A certificate. The censor board still maintains that the film can be watched under parental guidance.

We felt that the violence in this film was normal the way you find in other Hindi films, where a hero goes on to smash 50-60 people alone. So it was granted U/A certificate. It wasn't that explicit or gruesome. Two of three scenes which we found gruesome have already been deleted, said Vinayak Azad, Regional Officer, Central Board of Film Certification.

The film is based on the Hollywood psychological thriller Memento .

Update: Court Challenge

18th January 2009. See article from topnews.in

The Bombay High Court has adjourned by a week the hearing of an appeal in response to public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the Censor Board's decision seeking an ‘A’ certification for Ghajini.

The petition, filed by Pratibha Nathani, a social activist and a professor of Political Science professor at St Xavier’s College, said that the film is sending out a wrong message as the gruesome aggression portrayed in the scenes could have a negative impact on children.

Hence Pratibha urged Bombay High Court to change the movie’s rating from ‘U/A’ to ‘Adult.’

Padikkathavan passed UA with cuts

Based on article from sify.com

Padikathavan poster The Indian Regional Censor Board in Chennai has censored the new movie Padikkathavan .

The film has been passed with an 'UA' certificate with some cuts in the climax fight scene.

The film is now slated for release on January 14.

 

8th January   

Under Siege...

Indian TV to be banned from unauthorised coverage of law and order emergencies
Link Here

I&B logo In the wake of a controversy over real time coverage of the 60-hour Mumbai siege, the Indian government has proposed a slew of restrictions aimed at preventing news broadcasters from showing any live telecast other than an authorized feed in the event of a law and order emergency.

The information & broadcasting ministry has obtained the law ministry's clearance for a draft notification extensively amending the cable television network rules 1994. The amendments, which are due to be notified after receiving feedback from other ministries, include drastic curbs on live coverage of events to be imposed at the discretion of an authorized officer. All that the channels will be permitted to show in such situations is delayed carriage of live feed.

The law will ban any unauthorised broadcast which

  • Contains live coverage of war, violent law and order situation or operations where security forces have to overcome terrorists or other hostile groups.
  • Contains details of identity, number and status of hostages or information regarding the number of security personnel involved or the methods employed by them in a hostage situation.
  • Contains live-contact including live phone-in calls and interviews with victims or security personnel or other technical personnel involved or the perpetrators of crime, arson, violence while the violence or the criminal activity is in progress.
  • Contains coverage of operational details in respect of war or any other security operation except as disclosed by the authorised officer.

In another draft clause related to violence or disasters, the government prohibits close-ups and extended images of blood or gore, dismembered or disfigured limbs or bodies or images of the dead or seriously wounded people or violence which may seriously distress or offend substantial number of viewers or cause public panic and incite further violence or compromise the dignity of the dead.

 

5th January   

Harmful Censorship...

Pakistan blocks pages with family pictures of Punjab Governor
Link Here

Pakistan flag The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has issued directives to all its ISP providers to block a list of six web pages on the grounds that they were harmful for the integrity of the country.

The URL Level block directive by the PTA was in response to the decision taken by the Inter-Ministerial Committee whose charter is to monitor and block anti-Pakistan, blasphemous, and pornographic web sites.

The specific URL’s under question carry a bunch of typical family pictures of Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab. These pictures had been making rounds on various email lists across Pakistan some months back ridiculing the lavish parties thrown by the Governor Taseer at the Governor House while his people have been starving on the streets. None had blasphemous material, or anything which could even remotely be construed as anti-Pakistan.

It has been suspected that these pictures may have apparently been copied from a facebook picture album of one of the Taseer family and could arguably be deemed private in nature, but one does have to wonder how the Inter-Ministerial Committee chose to classify them as being ‘harmful for the integrity of the country’

3 of the 6 pages have already been removed from www.dictatorshipwatch.com as the site hopes to be unblocked in Pakistan. One page at www.friendskorner.com is subscription only but banned pages remain at:

  • www.makepakistanbetter.com
  • www.buzzvines.com

 

4th January   

Update: Bollyban...

Pakistan looks set to restore ban on Indian films
Link Here

Pakistan flag Sixteen Hindi films were screened in Pakistan last year after a nearly four-decade ban on Indian movies was lifted.

But strained ties between the neighbours following the Mumbai terror attack coupled with dipping fortunes of the Pakistani film industry may signal the end of this short lived golden phase.

Pakistan Censor Malik Shahnawaz Noon said the board was planning to again ban Indian movies as it was destroying the local film industry. I personally believe Indian films should not be screened in Pakistan and we are working to put a ban on Bollywood movies.

Others agreed with him. Said Syed Noor, a leading Pakistani writer-director-producer: Some people with vested interests don’t want our industry to flourish. He disclosed that the government was meeting members of the film fraternity to find ways to revive local cinema.

 

3rd January   

Malpractices in the Censorship System...

Depicting a corrupt education system gets an Indian comedy banned
Link Here

CBFC logo For the first time in the history of Marathi cinema, Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has rejected an entire film claiming that its theme and impact was not fit for exhibition.

The film Master Eke Master , starring veteran Ashok Saraf and directed by Sanjay Surkar, is a comedy that highlights loopholes in the education system.

The Censor Board has conveyed it to the makers of the film that Master eke Master glorified corruption and malpractices in the education system.

The members who saw the film, including Prof Nandini Sardesai, objected to scenes like liquor being served in the class, depiction of degradation of women and a teacher indulging in bigamy.

The film violates guidelines of the Censor Board. Even after giving cuts, the objectionable theme of the film cannot be changed. It is not suitable for viewing by non-adults and hence the film was unanimously recommended refusal certificate for all categories, CBFC said.

Expressing shock at the decision, Surkar said: Master eke Master is a black comedy that depicts confrontation of two extreme individuals from the education field. In reality, one sees lot of corruption in the education system.

Surkar said he would make an application before the revising committee of the Censor Board soon and added that he was willing to fight it out at the tribunal as well.