A book on Mahatma Gandhi has been banned by the government in his native state of Gujarat.
The book by Joseph Lelyveld contains evidence that India's independence hero had a homosexual relationship. Early reviews in the US and UK suggest that
Gandhi was depicted as sometimes racist and that he had an intimate relationship with a German man named Hermann Kallenbach.
Chief Minister Narendra Modi said that its contents were perverse and defamed the icon of non-violence . Modi
accused the author of displaying a perverted mentality in writing the book, which he said had hurt the sentiments of masses of people: This publication defames the Mahatma and there is rising anger not only in Gujarat but in the entire country.
Gujarat's state assembly voted unanimously to ban Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India , even though it has not yet been released in India.
Lelyveld has denied writing that Gandhi was a bisexual, saying
his work had been taken out of context.
The post of the censor board chief comes with its fair share of controversies. Little wonder then that most of the Bollywood bigwigs the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has approached have turned down the offer.
said that the I&B ministry is likely to appoint a woman, but not from the film industry. The last time a person with no film background occupied the post was in 1990 when MP (BJP) BP Singhal was appointed as the chief of the board. Singhal's tenure
lasted a few months.
Producer L Suresh, who is one of the board members, said, It is true that most of those approached by the ministry have declined to take up the job. This, I feel, is mainly because it is a thankless job and comes with a lot
of responsibility which people in the film industry are not ready to take on.
Suresh confirmed that South Indian actors Amla and Suhasini were approached, but have refused to accept the offer. The other names suggested for the post included
producer-director Ramesh Sippy, film-makers Govind Nihalani and Saeed Mirza and actors Shabana Azmi, Ratna Pathak Shah and Raveena Tandon.
She's famous in the world of classical dance and choreography, but the country's next film censor chief has never been on the silver screen.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has selected noted Bharatanatyam dancer Leela Samson, currently
chairperson of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and director of the Kalakshetra dance school in Chennai, as the new chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
According to the Times of India, the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Amendment Bill has been introduced by the government's women and child development ministry (WCD) to eliminate indecent representation of women in audio and visual
material, including advertisements, publications and electronic form.
The new law would make objectionable representation of women a crime. Part of the proposed legislation is distribution that will include uploading of content on the
web. A section on material has also been introduced and will include book, pamphlet, paper, slide, painting or photographs.
The new bill includes new definitions of terms like advertisements to include notice, wrapper, label, circular or
other document or any audio or visual representation made by means of any light, laser light, sound, smoke, gas or electronic form or through any media for the purpose of promotion of any goods, services, place, person, event or organization.
Stiffer penalties are also part of the WCD's plan that include a fine of Rs 50,000 (about $1,100), up from Rs 2,000 and a jail term of up to three years for first-time offenders. The government also wants the term to be raised to a maximum of five years for the second and subsequent conviction and the fine hiked from Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh (about $10,000).
The proposed legislation has reportedly been presented to the country's ministries and is expected to be reviewed by the Union Cabinet soon.
The Indian information & broadcasting (I&B) ministry wants to hire private detectives to blow the whistle on cinema owners who screen films interspersed with pornographic clips.
The detectives will raid cinema halls that screen films with
porn scenes and to verify if the films screened by them have proper censor certificates.
The I&B ministry has put forward the proposal to the planning commission.
Former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) regional officer
Vinayak Azad said: A provision to hire private detectives was there in the 10th Five-Year Plan, but it was discontinued. We received many complaints but most were from smaller towns and more often than not they were from movie-goers.
2006, the regional censor board of Kerala had engaged private detectives who had detected 104 cases. But Ayyappa Prasad, a senior film critic from Chennai said, It has now reduced in the south as the trend of sleazy heroines and porn films has
changed. Earlier, no action used to be taken despite police complaints, as they worked hand-in-glove with exhibitors.
The CBFC has demanded a sum
of Rs 25 million, at the rate of Rs five million per year, for hiring detectives and providing vital feedback mechanism for Board Members , according to the strategy paper of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.
The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has decided to engage detectives to monitor theatres to ensure that exhibitors do not attach salacious bits
to films being screened to lure gullible audience to an already certified film.
The detectives are proposed to be hired to assist the board in order to obtain vital feedback for members on the films being screened and assess whether they are
actually certified movies. There are many instances where some adventurous exhibitors, in connivance with local cops, secretly insert clips of censored scenes or those containing adult material not in the original films to have audience flocking to the
To provide for the services of these detectives, the CBFC has now earmarked a total outlay of Rs 25 million during the 12th Five Year Plan of which Rs 5 million will be utilised annually.
The Censor Board wants to ensure that
its views about good and healthy entertainment, recreation and education contents are inflicted on the public in accordance with the provisions of the Cinematograph Act.
Indian Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said that the Congress will constitute a panel headed by a retired judge to regulate television content in the country.
Soni was reacting to numerous complaints received by Members of
Parliament (MPs) on supposedly increasing 'vulgarity' in TV reality shows.
We are right on the threshold of announcing a self-regulatory mechanism to monitor content on television, Soni told the Lok Sabha or the Lower House of the
Replying to questions raised by MPs on the action taken by the government to monitor TV programs, the Information and Broadcasting Minister said that the panel once formed would take up complaints from the civil society.
Draft rules proposed by the Indian government for intermediaries such as telecommunications companies, ISPs and blogging sites will amount to censorship.
Under the draft rules, such intermediaries will have to notify users of their services not to
use, display, upload, publish, share or store a variety of content, for which the definition is very vague, and liable to misuse.
Content that is prohibited under these guidelines ranges from information that may harm minors in any way to
content that is harmful, threatening, abusive.
Some of the terms are so vague that to stay on the right side of the law, intermediaries may in effect remove third-party content that is even mildly controversial, said Pavan Duggal, a
cyberlaw consultant and advocate in India's Supreme Court.
terminate the access rights of the users to its site. After finding out about infringing content, either on its own or through the authorities, the intermediary has to work with the user or owner of the information to remove access to the information.
The draft rules also add new provisions that appear designed to give the government easier access to content from intermediaries. Intermediaries will be required to provide information to authorized government agencies for investigative,
protective, cybersecurity or intelligence activity, according to the rules.
The draft rules are secondary legislation framed by the government under the country's Information Technology (Amendment) Act of 2008. Under the IT Act, an intermediary is
not liable for any third-party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him, if among other things, he has observed due diligence under the draft rules.
India will seek to block the internet's newly-formed red-light district after a global agency governing the web approved .xxx suffix
for pornography websites last week, a senior government official said.
Last week, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved .xxx suffix for pornography websites raising concerns from online pornography businesses and
activists about a large scale arbitrary censorship by governments across the world who would now be able to easily identify porn sites because of the new nomenclature.
India along with many other countries from the Middle East and Indonesia
opposed the grant of the domain in the first place, and we would proceed to block the whole domain, as it goes against the IT Act and Indian laws, said a senior official at the ministry of IT. Though some people have said that segregation is
better, and some countries allow it. But for other nations transmission and direct distribution of such content goes against their moral and culture, he added.
Activists of Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) were arrested when they tried to stage a demonstration before director Gautam Menon's house to protest an alleged objectionable scene in his newly released Tamil film.
Carrying banners, 20 activists led by
the HMK's organisation secretary Kannan demanding that a scene be deleted from his latest release Nadunisi Naigal . The said scene showed the relationship of the hero and his foster mother in bad light. However, the protestors were arrested before
they could reach Menon's residence.
Kannan told reporters that foster mothers enjoyed pride of place in the Hindu Puranas and epics. Krishna nursed a lot of affection for his foster mother Yasoda and so did Rama for Kaikeyi. Hence, the
director must delete the objectionable scene from his film and express regret. Otherwise, his outfit would hold demonstrations before theatres screening the film, he said.
In his reaction, Menon said the film was based on a true story and the hero
was a mentally affected person, who could not differentiate between right and wrong. The director clarified that the film was not intended to hurt anybody's feelings.
Reporters Without Borders urges the Indian government to rescind an order it issued to national telecom operators on 13 February to suspend all mobile messaging services that cannot be monitored by the country's law enforcement agencies, including the
BlackBerry smartphone's corporate email service, called BlackBerry Enterprise Server.
The move is the latest step in the government's battle with Research In Motion, the BlackBerry's Canadian manufacturer, for access to the BlackBerry's encrypted
services. Reporters Without Borders fears that it could lead generalized monitoring, filtering and censorship of mobile Internet services.
Citing national security needs, India had given RIM until 31 January to provide it with access to the
encrypted data on BlackBerry Enterprise Server. RIM had previously given the Indian authorities the ability to monitor its consumer messaging services, including BlackBerry Messenger and email. RIM finally responded on 28 January with a statement that it
could not surrender the keys to BlackBerry Enterprise Server's encrypted data because it did not have them. The only keys were those held by its corporate clients, RIM claimed.
The order issued three days ago to commercially-owned telecom
operators Bharti, Vodafone, Idea, Rcom and Tatas and to state-owned operators BSNL and MTNL was the Indian government's response to RIM's statement.
Performances by the famous dancing girls of the Pakistani city of Lahore have come to an end because of increasing cfears of violent attacks.
As the BBC's Haroon Rashid reports, Pakistan's deteriorating law and order situation - including bomb
blasts near the bazaar where the girls operated - has forced them into prostitution and other risky ventures.
This old neighbourhood of crumbling buildings is no more a place for men to stray from their arranged marriages and spend time with
beautiful women trained in the arts of song, dance and seduction.
Just a few days ago, the women of this area, popularly known as Heera Mandi, used to attract men by wearing these anklets. The vast majority of dancing girls did exactly as their
name suggest - dance for a male clientele. Only a handful worked in the sex trade.
Lahore police spokesman Shahzad Asif Khan says that officers were unable to provide the women with adequate security: This was a centuries-old culture. But
unfortunately, over a period of time - and especially in the last seven or eight years - extremism has grown. In the last 10 months alone, there have been cracker blasts forcing the few remaining women to leave. The dancing girls' culture is almost
ActionAid researcher Daud Saqlain fears the future will not bode well for former dancing girls, some of whom have been forced into prostitution because hardliners objected to them performing relatively innocuous dances in
public: Over the last decade we have seen the unfortunate growth of home-based sex work. Because of poverty and limited opportunities, some women have had no choice but to switch from dancing to sex work.
While some women have moved to
other areas of the city, others have headed to far-off places such as Britain and the United Arab Emirates. Many former dancers have not turned to prostitution but have adjusted to the security threat by setting up their own websites to attract affluent
customers to privately owned houses in middle-class areas.
Historian Dr Mubarak Ali told the BBC that the end of the dancing girls tradition was another nail in the coffin of Lahore's artistic and cultural heritage, which had been whittled away
by radicalisation since the 1970s: Lahore before partition was a very cosmopolitan city . Women rode bikes and no-one objected to it. But the winds of change started blowing because of the support given by former dictator Gen Zia ul-Haq to
All Pakistani music festivals, theatre performances and other events have stopped being hosted here because of the fear of terrorism.
The Lahore Arts Council's (LAC) decision to ban all dance performances besides classical dance in commercial theatre plays has infuriated producers and artistes who believe the LAC is trying to damage their business. The decision was made to facilitate
quality theatre, claimed an LAC spokesperson when asked about the ban.
How many films are made in Pakistan annually? From the handful that are made how many have songs that we can use in our plays? If we don't have performances on Indian songs
and cannot include any dance performances other than classical dance, then what are we left with, said the chairman of Commercial Theatre Producers Association, Chaudhary Zulfiqar Ahmad.
Some artistes and producers don't follow certain
moral standards when including dance performances in their plays, they should be banned -- not the dances. Only a limited section of audience appreciates classical dance while large numbers of theatregoers have little or no interest in such performances.
This ban will have major financial repercussions on commercial theatre at the LAC, he added.
Suggesting a remedy to the vulgarity in commercial theatre, Ahmad said that the arts councils should strictly censor the scripts and not impose a ban.
The script of a play is first approved by the LAC and the Punjab Arts Council and only then is it sent to the Home Department for clearance. Writers on the panel of the arts council approve the scripts. Each script submitted mentions the dance
performances included in a play. If the arts council has objections to any dance performance or dialogue, it should censor that instead of making a rule to ban all dances featuring Indian songs. As far as Indian songs are concerned, many of them are sung
by Pakistani singers and are popular here. If we can allow them in the form of CDs, DVDs and screen them in our cinemas, why then can't we include them in our stage plays, questioned another producer who is doing plays at Alhamra, he spoke condition
One may sensibly query if there is any relevance to a censorship body in the 21st century when the internet remains a relatively untrammelled, free-floating entity, difficult to control or regulate.
Most viewers' instinctive reaction would be an
emphatic no . But what is a regulatory body to do when, for instance, a film with immense appeal to young people (Rules of Attraction) contains a scene showing a young woman slowly undressing before sitting in a bathtub, taking off her rings and
slitting her wrist vertically with a razor blade in an extreme close-up shot. A suicide prevention specialist said few know of how lethal vertical cuts on wrists can be, leading to a speedy and certain death. The scene in the film, played to the
beguiling soundtrack of Nilsen's Can't live, if living is without you . . ., presented a glamourised suicide scene and showed what was, in the Board's parlance, an imitable harmful technique .
An example emerged recently in a
low-budget American work called Terrorists, Killers and Other Wackos : a collection of clips collected from the floors of editing rooms, cobbled together and set to a jaunty soundtrack. Nothing was sacrosanct: real deaths, suicides, executions,
horrific injuries, a close-up of a man having his hand sliced off at the wrist. All served up without any documentary or other context and with the express intent to entertain. It made for jaw-dropping, eye-watering viewing, and the DVD would almost
certainly have found a ready market, probably among feckless young men at drink-driven parties. It was also acknowledged that the work was very unlikely to lead to anyone rushing out to copy or imitate the gory actions on view. However, there was an
extremely disturbing quality to such unashamedly exploitative material that made it impossible to release without some amount of soul-searching and debate. However, despite my own revulsion at the film, I continued to find it tough to accept that the
organisation I worked for had a remit that included protecting the moral fabric of the nation. Who was I to tell people what they could and couldn't watch, all the while being relatively undisturbed myself by watching the same material? Most BBFC cuts
are made in the porn category (sensibly, an entirely legal product in the UK, although hardcore material can only be sold in licenced sex shops). The Obscene Publications Act 1959, brought in to unsuccessfully proscribe D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's
Lover, is also still much in use, notably in the area of porn. It is, thankfully, a law that is almost never used to proscribe printed material any more, but the moving image is apparently still fair game.
Are people really likely to be depraved
and corrupted merely by watching porn performers do odd things to each other on screen? All but the very prudish would probably---at least, secretly--- think not. But such acts as the dripping of hot wax on certain body parts have remained on the
Department of Public Prosecution's list of obscene material for a long time and there will be little appetite in government to take on what could turn into a rather (forgive the pun) sticky issue.
And so the BBFC soldiers on into the 21st century,
doing what it does with sincerity and good intent.
Pakistan has decided in principle to devolve the Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC) to provinces.
According to documents available with The Express Tribune, Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi chaired a meeting of the federal and provincial
bureaucracy to discuss matters related to devolution of the culture ministry.
Participants unanimously decided to transfer film censor boards located in Lahore and Karachi to the respective provincial governments along with assets and staff. Other
provincial governments will establish their own boards. Provincial governments will also make any required legislation.
Participants also decided that those laid off in the Federal Film Censor Board, Islamabad, and other provinces will be
transferred to provincial governments according to their domiciles.
The Implementation Commission is facing a lot of problems in the devolution of some of the subjects to provinces under the 18th Amendment. The Central Board of Film
Censorship (CBFC) is one such gray area.
Sources in the ministry of culture informed The Nation that efforts were underway to keep the central board of films censorship intact as an autonomous department.
Ashvin Kumar's film on Doon School, Dazed In Doon release has been held up by a court order issued in Dehradun .
Says Ashvin: The petition filed by the Doon school alleges that its reputation will be damaged if the film is screened. The
court has granted an order that forbids me from screening, distributing and exhibiting the film.
Earlier, the headmaster wrote a letter to the I&B Ministry asking them not to issue a censor certificate.
Indian Blackberry users could face a ban after the phone's maker failed to meet a government deadline to grant access to encrypted business communications.
Officials in Delhi claim they need to read encrypted Blackberry messages to help guard
against terrorist attacks. They have been locked in negotiations with Research In Motion, which makes the popular device, since last summer.
However as a January 31 deadline passed, RIM said it would not lift encryption for its business clients.
Standard subscriptions with a telephone company can be snooped upon but businesses using their own server can retain the key without providing it to RIM for snooping purposes.
RIM said that complying with the January 31 deadline had proven
technically impossible because does not have the ability to unencrypt messages on business private networks.
It is unclear what steps the government may take as a result of the missed deadline, but senior officials have warned that they would not
take no for an answer.
Almost half the cinemas in Telangana were forced to stop screening of films in protest against the censor ban of N Shankar's film, Jai Bolo Telangana , a film based on the decades-old Telangana agitation.
Posters of films in which
Seemandhra actors worked were burnt at a couple of places while Telangana activists staged protests in front of cinema halls demanding the clearance to Jai Bolo Telangana .
Unconfirmed reports said that in Mahabubnagar district, protestors
burnt the reels of two movies, Wanted and Golconda High School .
The shut-down call given by the Kakatiya University Student Joint Action Committee (KUJAC). Students burnt posters of movies and an effigy of the Censor Board.
Jai Bolo Telangana , the controversial movie on Telangana separatist struggle, was finally cleared by the censor board on Thursday, but surprisingly with an A certificate.
All those who
have been waiting to watch a hardcore Telangana agitation movie could be in for a surprise. Jai Bolo. .. is reportedly as much a love story in the backdrop of the fight for a separate state.
The censors who watched Jai Bolo
Telangana for the second time suggested 10 cuts for the film. Sources said some of the dialogues had to be snipped, which the members felt were 'obscene'. Some visuals were also considered 'obscene'.
Censors also insisted upon the
producer/director N Shankar to include a disclaimer in the beginning of the movie so that the film could be understood in the 'right context'.
It was decided to give the film an 'A' certificate because the subject is such that only mature minds
can understand, CBFC Hyderabad regional officer Dhanalaxmi told TOI.
The censor certificate will be issued once the director executes all the suggested cuts, as he as agreed to do.
Meanwhile, earlier during the day lawyers from
Telangana region staged a protest at the Central Board of Film Certification's (CBFC) Hyderabad regional office at Masab Tank demanding that the film be cleared without any delay. They also wanted that it should be given a U certificate for all
Mallika Sherawat has won a case against her for a supposedly obscene dance performance.
On a live TV New Year's eve party in 2006, Mallika had performed at a suburban five-star hotel in Mumbai. But the performance, in a skin-coloured body
suit, did not go down well with morality campaigner Vinod Jain who filed a formal complaint against Mallika and fought the case in a sessions court, alleging that she dressed obscenely and even her dance was obscene.
Speaking to the Mumbai Mirror,
Jain said that he would carry on fighting the case at the High Court.
Slackistan , a British-made movie about young people living in Islamabad, has been banned in Pakistan because of scenes showing swearing and drinking.
The Guardian notes the contentious issues as: the words 'Taliban' and 'lesbian', swear
words in English and Urdu, scenes showing characters drinking (filmed with fake alcohol, incidentally) and a joke about beards (as in "my beard is longer than your beard") made between characters talking hypothetically about a fancy dress
party. These are not the CBFC's only objections, but the main ones it highlighted.
Its director, London-based Hammad Khan, has told the BBC he is refusing to make changes demanded by Pakistan's Central Board of Film Censors (CBFC).
also called for religious references to be taken out.
The low-budget film follows the young Pakistanis as they spend their time dating, drinking and going to parties despite attacks on their city by militants linked to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Sharmila Tagore, chairperson of India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), claims the body isn't into moral policing:
We see ourselves as more of a certification body than just censor board. We are not
into moral policing; we follow a middle path. There are certain things we let go, as we have to be a little more tolerant and mature. Times are changing and we have to change with it.
I do believe in censorship and I
do believe in freedom of expression, but at the same time there has to be a reasonable restriction. You really can't go back; the change of being liberal is here to stay for a longer time.
There was a time when slangs or
abusive language used to raise eyebrows of the censor board and the bosses would cut such scenes out, but now movies like Omkara, Kaminey, Ishqiya and No One Killed Jessica have paved way to silver screen without any cuts, but of course
with an A-certificate.
Trying to explain the supposedly liberal attitude of the CBFC, Sharmila said:
See an Omkara wouldn't have been Omkara minus all those dialogues, especially where the movie opens,
because it is a part of popular language; so we try to understand that.
Concerning sex, love-making scenes and violence in Indian cinema, Sharmila feels the censor board has become 'lenient' because Indian movies are frequently
at international film festivals, reaching out to far more people and competing with foreign films; hence the change in perception and a flexible approach is must.
For the past two years, Sharmila has been trying hard to get a fifth category in the
certification - for the 15-plus children - because she feels they are maturing early. At present the CBFC has four categories - Universal or U for all age group, Parental guidance of U/A, Adults only or A and Restricted to any special class or S.
She explained the need for a 15 rating:
Most of the filmmakers want their movies to be certified under U/A. But that is just not possible. If you are using a slang, I can't give you a U/A This is why I am pushing hard to get another category because
15-plus kids speak that language. They use the 'F' word more often and all those slangs; so yes, there is definitely need of that fifth category.
Facing a BlackBerry ban in Indonesia, Research In Motion. says it will comply as soon as possible with a government demand that it block pornography from its smartphones.
RIM has until Jan. 21 to begin filtering porn sites or face legal
action including revocation of its permit to operate in the country, one of RIM's fastest-growing international markets. Communication and information technology minister Tifatul Sembiring said that may include a complete blocking of the BlackBerry's web
RIM is in talks with domestic phone carriers to find a remedy, the Waterloo, Ont-based company said in a statement. It did not respond to a request for further comment.
Malaysia will not ban the use of the Blackberry smartphone as of now as it has not caused any problem with regard to security, culture and administration, said Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
said, if there were sections of society with the facts to prove that the Blackberry phone were causing problems, the ministry through the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), would investigate the matter under the country's existing
He was referring to reports that the Indonesian government planned to ban the use of the Blackberry phone in the republic if its order for the service provider to implement pornography blockers and to create a server is not adhered to
The Indian government, which fears that the heavy encryption on RIM's BlackBerry smartphones makes them convenient for terrorists to use undetected, has asked RIM to grant access to its messenger services before Jan 31, 2011.
According to WSJ:
The lawful access capability now available to RIM's carrier partners meets the standard required by the government of India for all consumer messaging services offered in the Indian marketplace, RIM said in a customer
update seen by Dow Jones Newswires.
No changes can be made to the security architecture for BlackBerry Enterprise Server [corporate email] customers since, contrary to any rumors, the security architecture is the same
around the world and RIM truly has no ability to provide its customers' encryption keys, RIM's customer update said.
RIM continues to work closely with the government and RIM's carrier partners in India…We are
pleased to have delivered a solution well before a mutually agreed milestone date of January 31, 2011, RIM said.
India's Chennai Regional Censor board has banned the release of Sengadal , a film based on Sri Lankan war and problems faced by Tamil fishermen in Indian ocean. The film, according to sources, speaks elaborately on the atrocities of Sri Lankan
army against the Eelam and Indian Tamils.
Leena Manimekalai, the director has termed the Boards decision as a double standard. It is completely against the rights to freedom of expression. She also said that the movie is purely based on the truths
and facts of Sri Lanka's war against the Tamils.