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South Asia Censorship News

2010: Oct-Dec

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27th December   

A Political Football...

Indian censor bans Inshallah Football
Link Here
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has banned Inshallah Football , a documentary film about an aspiring footballer who was denied the right to travel abroad on the pretext that father was a militant in the 1990s.

The film's director Ashvin Kumar said, This morning (December 23) I received a call from the Indian censor board stating that after having referred the film to a revision panel, censor certification will not be given. We have not been asked to make any cuts. The reason given was that it spoke against the Indian government and that it was one-sided.

The film has been critically acclaimed and won a Special Jury Distinction prize at the just-concluded Dubai International Film Festival.


19th December   

Update: Huffing and Puffing...

Indian censor rejects notion to rate films as adult because they contain cigarette smoking
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Despite the growing clamour by health activists to cut out smoking scenes from the celluloid world, the censor board may not snip them, neither will it add an adults-only A rating.

If smoking scenes are central to the plot, they stay, chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification Sharmila Tagore told TOI. Sharmila was asked in the context of two upcoming releases which have actors lighting up on screen— Break Ke Baad and No One Killed Jessica .

A case in point, she said, was Anurag Kashyap's Udaan which showed teenagers smoking. There are times when it is needed to establish a personal trait of a character.We need to allow that. Besides, in most cases, it is only in one or two scenes, Sharmila said.

She rejected reports that the information and broadcasting ministry had sent a notice, asking it to issue A certificates for films with smoking scenes. We have not received any such directive from our ministry. As of now, we are following the guidelines that state smoking scenes should not be glorified and, if a character is smoking on screen, a disclaimer should be inserted for that scene.


14th December   

Banning the Name Sheila...

Indian film censor bollox about Tees Maar Khan
Link Here

Farah Khan's Tees Maar Khan has run into trouble with the Censor Board as its revising committee has sought four cuts in the film.

The examining committee , which saw the film in Mumbai this week, had issued an 'A' certificate to the film with a few cuts which the producers refused to accept and moved the revising committee, ' said a revising committee source There was an objection to the name Sheila in the song and exposure of Katrina's midriff. But the revising committee overruled it and has allowed the name to be retained.''

Some of the cuts advised are deletion or replacement of the word Pencho used frequently in the film.


4th December   

Update: Bombay Ducked...

Indian film censor will now ban the city name Bombay
Link Here

Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray's warning to Sharmila Tagore of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), she will held be responsible if any movie refers to the city as Bombay, seems to have worked.

Tagore has asked the board members to take appropriate action against the offending parties: We have been informed that the CBFC has decided to review those films against which we had raised objections. Two to three films had used the word 'Bombay' instead of Mumbai .

The board issued this order immediately after receiving the letter. It assured us it won't happen in future, said Shalini Thackeray, general secretary of the association.


29th November   

Bombay Blue...

Bombay high court finds that viewing porn at a private party is not illegal
Link Here

Can adults who view pornographic content be charged with obscenity if they are doing so in private? No, says the Bombay high court.

A Justice of the Bombay high court has quashed obscenity charges against top customs officers who were arrested following a police raid at a bungalow in Lonavla in 2008.

The customs officers were raided while allegedly watching a pornographic film on a laptop and dancing with bar girls, the police had claimed.

Simply viewing an obscene object is not an offence, Justice Tahilramani said. It becomes an offence only when someone has in possession such objects for the purpose of sale, hire, distribution, public exhibition or putting it into circulation. If the obscene object is kept in a house for private viewing, the accused cannot be charged (for obscenity).

The court held that the private viewing of an obscene film on a laptop in a bungalow was not tantamount to public exhibition.

The prosecution's argument that the accused were dancing with the bar girls in an obscene manner did not cut ice with the court. The HC said the people were dancing among themselves and not for public exhibition. Proceedings against the accused (on obscenity charges) will be an abuse of the process of the court, said the judge. The officers, however, are still charged under provisions of the Bombay Prohibition Act for consuming liquor without a permit.


28th November   

Threat of What Exactly?...

Indian film censor held responsible for the fearful consequences of films referring to Mumbai as Bombay
Link Here

After targeting director Karan Johar for calling the city Bombay in one of his films, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray issued a veiled threat to Censor Board chairperson Sharmila Tagore, for passing films which call the city by its former name.

Raj wrote to Tagore, saying that she, and not the director of the movie, will be held responsible if a movie calling the city Bombay is given a nod by the board.

The letter said, The city's name was officially changed from Bombay to Mumbai in 1996. Every organisation, like the civic body and the development body ensured that they made changes in their names. Despite all this, many films continue to call the city Bombay.

Raj said the onus of any reactions to hearing the city being called by its former name, lay on Tagore. I am writing this letter to you to tell you that hence forth you shall be held responsible for the consequences of a film not calling the city Mumbai.

[So what consequences are these, that are so fearful?]


23rd November   

Update: Film Posters Doctored...

Doctors protest smoking on Indian film poster
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Posters of the film Guzaarish showing actor Aishwarya Rai Bachchan smoking have got doctors riled.

About 1,500 doctors from Mumbai, attached to Maharashtra Association of Resident Doctors (MARD), gathered at KEM Hospital and pinned black ribbons to their white robes to protest against the poster.

The protest received support from Indian Medical Association, Mumbai, and Doctors for You, a non-government organistaion.

MARD has written to the film makers, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the state health minister. The doctors want Aishwarya to personally explain to the youth, especially women, the evils of smoking. We want the poster removed immediately from BEST buses and other places and a boycott of the film by all concerned citizens. We also want the censor board to act sensibly, said Dr Madhav Swami, president, MARD.


14th November   

Update: Culturally Banned...

Satyajit Ray's Sikkim unbanned but not allowed to be shown
Link Here
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

Satyajit Ray's historic documentary Sikkim had its screening cancelled on Thursday at the Kolkata Film Festival (KFF) after being banned by a court order citing violation of copyright laws.

A District Judge ordered the stay on a petition by Atul Kaura, secretary of Art & Culture Trust of Sikkim, an NGO supposedly working for the preservation of ethnic Sikkimese art and culture.

The film cannot be screened without our permission when the copyright is with us. Even the censor certificates are with us, where we have been credited as the producers of the film, Ugyen Chopel, managing trustee of the body, said.

Claiming exclusive possession of a sole 35 mm print and two DVD versions of the film, he alleged that the film festival authorities were showing a pirated version of the documentary.

We have cancelled all the screenings as of now. But we will challenge the decision in the court, KFF director Nilanjan Chatterjee said.

The 52-minute documentary, commissioned by the last Chogyal (king) of Sikkim, Palden Thondup Namgyal, has remained shrouded in controversy ever since it was made by the Oscar winning director in 1971. The Chogyals first banned the film after a few scenes went against their liking. When the Himalayan kingdom merged with India in 1975, the Indian government also banned it.

In 2000, the copyright of the film was transferred to the Art and Culture Trust of Sikkim. A damaged print of the film was restored by the Ganktok-based trust in 2002 with the support of The Academy of Motion Pictures, Art and Science in California.


12th November   

Updated: Bad Attitudes in Sri Lanka...

Magistrate tells police to post porn actor pictures for identification and arrest
Link Here

A Sri Lankan magistrate has ordered police to publish photographs of 83 local pornography actors in a bid to identify and arrest them for violating obscenity laws, officials said.

Police told Colombo Fort magistrate Lanka Jayaratne that the men and women featured on 180 Sri Lankan pornographic websites that have been blocked by telecommunications regulators.

We now have a court order to publish the photographs in the national press and seek public assistance to identify and arrest them, a police officer said, declining to be named.

He said the actors faced up to six months jail or a fine of 10,000 rupees (90 dollars), or both, if convicted.

Update: Request Refused

12th November 2010.  Based on article from

Newspaper editors in Sri Lanka refused to publish pictures of men and women who are wanted by police for appearing on porn websites in the country.

Under a crackdown on pornography on the Indian Ocean island, police are trying to trace local men and women pictured in compromising poses and had asked newspapers to reproduce mugshots of 83 of them.

We were given the photos with a request to publish them, but we decided not to, said Siri Ranasinghe, chief editor of the mass circulating Sinhalese daily, the Lankadeepa: It is a question of privacy. We don't know who these people are and under what circumstances the police got these pictures. Technology can be used to manipulate pictures, so we decided to leave them out.

All national dailies refused to print the photographs except for the Lakbima Sinhalese newspaper, which published the mugshots at the bottom of page two, without any reference to the allegations against them.

Update: Poor Response

24th November 2010.  Based on article from

The Police will now release to the police stations the pictures of the locals who acted in these films to trace them. This is in contrast to the previous plan to give maximum publicity, through the media, to the pictures of the locals and get help to identify them.

However, only one newspaper had published the pictures. Police said they had obtained a court order to publish the pictures, but were unable to confirm whether the pictures were doctored or not.

Police had been able to track down only three persons from some 83 pictures which had been released to the media. The three persons were released on bail after being produced in court.

Update: 7 Police Victims Arrested

3rd December 2010.  See  article from

Sri Lankan police have arrested and bailed seven people accused of appearing in pornographic films. Police said the seven had to make statements and pay a surety before being released.

The suspects face up to six months in jail or a fine of 10,000 rupees ($89.75), or both, if convicted. The suspects were allegedly identified by photos obtained by the police from the now banned local porn web sites.

The Sri Lankan media has reported that some of the pictures released by police were in fact from private videos released by estranged lovers, while some appeared to have been secretly shot with hidden cameras.


6th November   

Update: Internet Censorship in Sri Lanka...

Sri Lanka set to implement ISP level website blocking
Link Here

Sri Lanka's Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC) has announced plans to install ISP-level software that will block pornographic websites, according to local news reports. The software will reportedly be ready within six weeks.

Currently, we are having discussions with the Information and Communication Technology Department of the University of Colombo for technical assistance to launch the software, TRC Chairman Anusha Palpita said.

Palpita added that discussions are currently being held with all internet service providers in the country regarding the implementation of the software.


2nd November   

Battle of Words...

Novelist besieged by 150 hindu women demanding she quit India
Link Here

The Delhi home of the prize-winning Indian novelist and human rights campaigner Arundhati Roy was besieged by Hindu women demanding that she quit the country because of her outspoken views on Kashmir.

Around 150 members of the Bharatiya Janata Party's women's organisation surrounded the house chanting slogans such as: Take back your statement, else leave India . The BJP is fiercely opposed to Kashmiri independence.

Addressing a conference in last month (OCT), Roy had declared: Kashmir has never been an integral part of India. It is a historical fact. The author, whose story The God of Small Things won the 1997 Booker Prize, has supported Kashmiri secession in the past as well as diverse environmental and social causes.

The Indian government was reported at one stage to be considering launching a prosecution for sedition against Roy and the Kashmiri separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani over their remarks.

Roy said: The government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me ... So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right-wing storm troopers ... But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast?


1st November   

Strong Language in Court...

Film bigwigs ignore nutter's court action to harangue them for supposedly abusive language
Link Here

The Lucknow bench of the Allahabad high court has directed the Mumbai police commissioner to serve court notices to producers and directors of Peepli Live, Omkara, Gangaajal and Bandit Queen for alleged use of abusive language in these movies.

The order was passed in response to a petition filed by a local lawyer Ashok Pandey. The petitioner had sought an immediate ban on the screening of the movies stating that they are popularising the use of abusive language.

The court on October 12 had issued notices against chairperson of Censor Board Sharmila Tagore, producers of Peepli Live Aamir Khan and director Anusha Rizvi, producer-director of Gangaajal Prakash Jha, producer of Omkara Kumar Mangat and director Vishal Bharadwaj, director of Bandit Queen Sandeep S Bedi and director Shekhar Kapoor.

However, none of the respondents appeared before the court after which it decided to send notices through the Mumbai police commissioner. The court has fixed November 23 as the next date of hearing.


26th October   

Updated: No Kisses for the Censor...

India's first gay film receives a substantial cuts list
Link Here
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

Dunno Y.... Na Jaane Kyun has been refused a certificate from the Censor Board untill the cuts directed by the revising committee are incorporated into the final print. The film has been stuck for the last two months after the committee suggested that the kissing and love-making related stories

Scenes between actors Kapil Sharma and Yuvraj Parashar have to be snipped out. They also had strong objections to the nudity in the film.

Kapil Sharma confirms the news and says that giving in to the CBFC's demands would have been a major compromise. The scenes in question were essential to depict the romance between the two men. If the censors can allows kisses between hetrosexual lovers why should they be averse to those between homosexual partners? he argues.

Dunno YHe points out that homosexuality is legal now following the Supreme Court's ruling on article 377 last year. And says that they may move court if the revising committee doesn't change its decision.

We don't mind reducing the length of these scenes that are already blurred but editing them out is not an option. We've already made some cuts suggested by one of the previous committees.

The LGBT community has promised to support them should they move court. But we'd like to settle the matter amicably, says Sharma.

Update: 40% Cuts on Appeal

26th October 2010. From

The Indian censor board has cut a lovemaking scene from Dunno Y… Na Jaane Kyon by about 40%. Another scene taken of a nude Yuvraj Parasher from behind has been deleted.

The first censor committee refused to pass. The revising committee (appeal board) also had problems with a kissing and lovemaking scenes, along with some dialogue.

Parashar points out that a lot of it had to do with the fact that the scenes features two men instead of a girl and a boy: We convinced them that the film is about love and not sex. And got away with 60% of the scenes intact.

The actors have also been been getting pressure from a homophobic organisation in Delhi over the last week warning them with dire consequences if the film was released. A complaint was lodged with the Khar Police Station last week. Says a petrified Parashar: Kapil and I are new to the film industry and don't want these people to harm us before our career even takes off.


19th October   

Dabbawallah Sweat...

Up 'n' coming Indian nationalist politician protests 20 year old book
Link Here

A novel published almost two decades ago by a Canadian author is fuelling a censorship battle that may serve as a proving ground for the next generation of India's extreme nationalists.

A mob of students at the University of Mumbai recently burned copies of Such a Long Journey , the award-winning novel by Rohinton Mistry, complaining about profanity and unfair portrayals of right-wing politicians.

The university's leadership accepted their demands to pull the novel from the syllabus midterm, prompting a counterprotest this week by faculty and students in support of the book.

The state government has promised to investigate the ban, but it's already regarded as the first political success for Aditya Thackeray, the 20-year-old grandson of the man who founded Shiv Sena, a hard-line nationalist party. Like his father and his grandfather before him, Thackeray will be expected to fill a space in India's public discourse roughly equivalent to that occupied by Fox News in the United States.

Building on the notoriety he gained from his attack on the Canadian author, the budding politician plans to announce the formation of his party's new youth wing.

The university added the title to its syllabus for undergraduate English studies four years ago, apparently without objection until Thackeray discussed the book with fellow students over the summer.

He said some students brought the book to his attention because of some slang and abusive language, said C.R. Sadasivan, president of the Bombay University and College Teachers' Union. They also claimed they want to defend the dabbawallas, Prof. Sadasivan added, referring to the unique class of delivery men who carry lunch boxes to office workers in India's largest city.

The offending reference to dabbawallas appears to be passage of dialogue in which a character complains that one of the delivery men stood so close on the train that the man's sweat dripped on him.

What to do with such low-class people? the character says, in the book. No manners, no sense, nothing. And you know who is responsible for this attitude – that bastard Shiv Sena leader who worships Hitler and Mussolini.

That kind of talk about Shiv Sena remains dangerous, even in fiction.

A selection of pages highlighted by Shiv Sena suggests the party also has a problem with descriptions of male erections; the dietary advantages of eating India's sacred cows; the failings of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister; and tame scenes at brothels.


18th October   

Censors Take their Revenge...

The line, 'Revenge is the purest emotion', offends Indian film censors
Link Here

Indian filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma's new movie Rakhta Charitra is facing tarditional censor 'controversy'.

This time, the filmmaker has quoted a line from Mahabharat in his movie Rakhta Charitra 's posters. This has not gone well with the censor board in Hyderabad, which has put objection on the line, which says, Revenge is the purest emotion . The producers of the movie have been asked by the censor board to remove the reference.

A source was quoted saying that the censor board in Hyderabad said that it can't be proved that the line in question has indeed any reference in Mahabharat . Hence the line has been asked to remove.

The producers have already distributed all the posters with that line. So, they are left with no other option but to remove the line from each of the posters at huge cost.


10th October   

Update: Creative Thinking Lacking in Nepal...

Nepal ISPs doubt the practicality of an internet porn ban
Link Here

A notice is likely to be issued regarding the government's decision to ban pornography in a week's time. ISPs doubt if such a move would be practical.

As per the government decision, cyber cafes will now need to take permission from the District Administrative Offices (DEO) before starting their operations.

They will also be asked to maintain record of users´ login and logout time. The cafes will be monitored by representatives from DAO, District Tax Office, Nepal Police and local IT professional recommended by DAO.

Following an appeal from the Home Ministry, Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has been working with ISPs and telecom operators to ban sites that have pornographic content.

Internet Service Providers Association of Nepal (ISPAN) has said they needed to install firewall and filtering software to block pornographic sites. The filtering software costs anything between US $100,000 to a million dollar, said ISPAN President Binay Bohora. Hence effective implementation of the government decision would be a tall order for the ISPs, he added.

NTA Spokesperson Kailash Prasad Neupane believes that after porn sites are banned, then internet users will spend time doing research and creative works on the web.


9th October   

Update: Temptation...

Afghanistan starts blocking news websites
Link Here

Until recently, Afghanistan's Internet has been notably free of government censorship. That stems largely from the limited impact and visibility of the Net domestically. But the Afghan government finally got around to imposing national filters in June, when the Ministry of Communications instructed local ISPs to blacklist websites that promote alcohol, gambling, and pornography, or ones that provide dating and social networking services.

Afghanistan's Internet regulators are still struggling to enforce their rules. Despite the order, the vast majority of sites violating the regulator's code are still available. Even ostensibly blocked sites are easily viewable using straightforward proxies or circumvention software.

Yet the government has already been tempted to use the new Internet regulations for more than just defending public morals. The government has told ISPs to include news reporting websites on their blacklists. The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the Pashto-language website Benawa had been blocked in the country after it incorrectly reported that the first vice president, Mohammed Qasim Fahim, had died. (The site corrected the error within a half hour.)

There are also reports that a ban is being sought for another Pashto news site, Tolafghan.

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