South Asia Censorship News

 2013: July-Sept



  The Gandhi of Jehadis...

Indian censors cut dialogue in the film Shahid claiming hurt feelings


Link Here 27th September 2013
shahidIndia's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has asked director Hansal Mehta to change a line of dialogue in his forthcoming movie Shahid .

The censors felt that the dialogue, Apne aap ko jihadiyon ka Gandhi samajhta hain ? (Do you consider yourself the Gandhi of jehadis?) might somehow hurt people's sentiments. Therefore, the name Gandhi has been replaced with the word masiha (messiah).

Releasing on October 18, the movie is based on the true story of slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was killed in 2010 by unidentified assailants in his office.

 

  Classified as Rejected...

India sacks its chief film censor


Link Here 17th September 2013
pankaja thakur cbfcDespite the industry pushing for it, Pankaja Thakur, the CEO of India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), has not been given an extension by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting .

When she 'steps down' in a few days, Thakur will become the first CBFC head, whose three-year term has not been granted an extension. All the previous CEOs have worked for at least five years.

 

 Update: Show Trial...

4 bloggers to be tried under new extreme law against atheist bloggers


Link Here 9th September 2013  full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
Bangladesh flagA Bangladesh court has indicted four bloggers for their supposedly inflammatory writings about Islam and the religious character Muhammad.

This will be the first case to be tried under Bangladesh's recently amended Information and Communication Technology Act, enacted after widespread violent street protests demanding the blood of atheist bloggers. The new law features extreme punishments of up to 14 years in jail.

The opening of the trial was set for 6th November.

 

 Update: Blurred Thinking...

Indian censor dictates that music videos objectifying women have to be kidified for TV


Link Here 7th September 2013  full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
pisellated songs india tv Bollywood songs and dance numbers featuring sexily dressed women displaying supposedly vulgar moves have been ordered to be pixellated or blurred on television. The Central Board of Film Censorship (CBFC) says that scenes 'objectifying' women or displaying them suggestively will have to be blurred or pixellated.

The censorship has started with Tu Bhi Mood Mein , a playful raindance number from Indra Kumar's soon-to-bereleased adult comedy Grand Masti . The song is now being aired on music channels with pixels covering 'objectionable' parts of the images. The uncensored promos of the film have gone viral on YouTube.

CBFC chief censor Pankaja Thakur explained:

Songs that are moderate in content are acceptable to the TV audience but the board is careful when it comes to something that is either too vulgar or inappropriate. Special instructions are thus given for toning down such songs,

According to directives of Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, films with A certification (Adults only) have to be re-certified for TV viewing by the censor board. For this reason, the A-certified Grand Masti has been scrutinised for TV viewing.

 

 Update: Believing Any Old Nonsense...

Indian Supreme Court orders government to ban internet porn within a month


Link Here 4th September 2013  full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn
india supreme courtIndia's Supreme Court has ordered the government to take steps to block porn sites and has granted four weeks to produce a plan.

The court was hearing a petition filed by the morality campaigner Kamlesh Vaswani who claimed that although watching obscene videos is not an offence, pornographic sites should be banned as they are one of the major causes for crime against women.

The petition alleged that over 20 crore porn videos or clippings are freely available in the market, which are directly been downloaded through Internet or other video CDs.

The sexual content that kids are accessing today is far more graphic, violent, brutal, deviant and destructive and has put entire society in danger so also safety threats to public order in India.

The petitioner most respectfully submits that most of the offences committed against women/girls/children are fuelled by pornography. The worrying issue is the severity and gravity of the images are increasing. It is a matter of serious concern that prepubescent children are being raped.

The petition also asked that watching and sharing obscene videos should be made non-bailable and cognisable offence.

 

  Censored Chat...

Pakistan bans all mobile phone chat services to protect 'moral values of society'


Link Here 30th August 2013
pakistan telecommunication authority logoThe Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has instructed all the cellular operators of the country to immediately stop all kinds of chat packages, including voice and SMS, at any time of the day.

A previous directive had banned late night chat services but the phone companies had found ways around the rules.

According to the latest directive titled Directive relating to packages offered by CMTOs contrary to moral values of society , cellular operators continue voice and SMS package (bundle offers) with different names despite a ban imposed by the PTA.

The PTA has previously banned all kinds of late night packages in November 2012. However, the cellular operators start selling these packages with different names and times.

Later, the PTA conducted a comprehensive survey which revealed that the chat packages are still operational under different names in clear violation of the PTA directives.

The cellular operators' consortium had approached the Supreme Court over the previous ban and proceedings on their petition are still pending there.

The telecom industry officials said the PTA this time without consulting the stakeholders again issued a directive on packages which generated a major share of the industry revenue. They said they will decide the future course of action after a meeting.

 

 Updated: Madras Cafe...

Indian movie proves controversial as it speculates about the assassination of the Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi


Link Here 23rd August 2013  full story: Madras Cafe...India film banned in Tamil Nadu and the UK
madras cafeMadras Cafe is a 2013 Indian action drama by Shoojit Sircar.
With John Abraham, Nargis Fakhri and Rashi Khanna.

The film is proving controversial in India as it is based on the Sri Lankan civil war where emotions are still running high.

Director Shoojit Sircar has conceded that his movie may have certain scenes resembling events related to Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, but he clarifies that the film's story is not a biopic on the former prime minister. Sircar said:

This is not a biopic on him, this is not a story based on him. Yes, you can say that there is a similarity to that incident. There is a similarity in the facial structure (of the actor who plays the said role).

Rajiv Gandhi died when an LTTE suicide bomber detonated a bomb at an election rally in May 1991. A similar incident has been showcased in the film's trailer. However, the director explained:

We have taken that incident which we read in the paper. Rest, whatever is around it, has been fictionalised in the scripting. But somewhere you may find some historical references in the fictionalised bit too.

Madras Cafe is already facing the ire of Tamil activist groups Naam Tamizhar and MDMK. The members have sought a ban on the film contending that it portrays LTTE cadres as terrorists.

Update: Not banned by Madras court

22nd August 2013. See  article from  timesofindia.indiatimes.com

The Madras high court has cleared the way for the release of the Bollywood movie Madras Cafe refusing to entertain a petition seeking its ban.

The judges in their order also said that the filmmakers have the liberty to release the dubbed version of the film as soon as it gets the clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

However the court case against the film will still go ahead with the next hearing on 3rd September.

Update: But banned in Tamil Nadu

23rd August  2013. See  article from  dailymirror.lk

Madras Cafe is seemingly banned in Tamil Nadu for showing the LTTE group in bad light. The spy thriller would not be screened in the state, reported a spokesperson of the Tamil Nadu Film Exhibitors Association.

The decision has been unanimously taken by the several pro-Tamil groups and political parties, including BJP. The pro-Tamil group demanded delete of some objectionable scenes but the leading actor of the film John refused to do so. He claimed that if censor board has not objection in any scene of the film then why should he delete those scenes.

 

 Extract: The Pixellated Penis and Other Tales of Modern Censorship...

Why fear of India's obscenity law turned HarperCollins prudish on a recent graphic novel


Link Here 10th August 2013

Paying Chester Brown bookIn the Indian edition of Paying For It , Chester Brown's comic-strip memoir about paying for sex, there is a cloud of grey dots where a condommed penis should be. This is surprising, not only because Brown's book is a sexual memoir, but also because it is otherwise full of uncensored nudity, or, more precisely, of minimalist line-drawings of unclothed people.

Brown's cartoon people are by no means smoothed out Barbies and Kens; they have all the parts people are supposed to have. But on the four occasions in the book that Brown chooses to zoom in on those parts---his own---they appear pixellated almost beyond recognition. His cartoon penis is still visible at a safe distance throughout the rest of the book.

VK Karthika, publisher and chief editor at HarperCollins India, which is publishing Brown's book in India, says this was a discretionary measure to pre-empt accusations of obscenity, taken on the advice of Harper's lawyer. Four close-up shots, a total of nine panels in 227 pages of eight panels each, were blurred. The logic behind the selective pixellation is that these four sequences---which depict, in order, the putting on of a condom, masturbation, a thorough manual examination conducted by a woman (no, that is not a euphemism), and impending fellatio---are more graphically sexual than others, hence more likely to be interpreted as obscene.

...Read the full article

 

  Banned by the Oppressed Students Revolutionary Force...

Chennai opening of the action movie Thalaivaa cancelled after bomb threats


Link Here 9th August 2013

thalaivaaThalaivaa - Time To Lead is a 2013 India action thriller by Vijay.
With Vijay, Amala Paul and Santhanam. YouTube icon BBFC link IMDb

A students' body called Tamil Nadu Oppressed Students Revolutionary Force threatened theatres and multiplexes, following which bookings for the opening night of the film were cancelled.

Members of the group threatened violence if Thalaivaa was screened in the state. According to the group, income tax on the money invested by the distributor of the film Vendhar Movies has been evaded. Besides, the money has been earned by exploiting students of SRM group of educational institutions, it is alleged.

Thalaivaa is being distributed by Vendhar Movies, who own SRM group, one of the biggest educational institutions in the state.

The film had been set to open in 500 theatres in the state of Tamil Nadu. An organisation representing cinema owners has now asked the government to step in and provide the necessary security for the film to open.

The release of the film in other states and other countries including the US and UK remains unaffected.

Cut for UK cinema release

Coincidentally the film has just received its cinema certificate. It was initially passed 15 uncut but the distributors wanted a lower age certificate, so resubmitted for a cut 12A.

The BBFC passed the film 12A for moderate violence and soft drug use after 2:21s of BBFC category cuts. The BBFC commented:

Distributor chose to make cuts to obtain a 12A classification. Cuts made to remove a focus on violence and bloody injuries, including throat slittings and bloody stab wounds, as well as sight of blood on swords and machete blades.

 

 Update: Society Harmed by Moralists...

The movie Silk Sakkath Hot has been banned for a few days pending a court hearing to consider claims of harm to society


Link Here 9th August 2013  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

silkVeena Malik's Silk Sakkath Hot screening has been halted.

A moralist campaigner has convinced a court stay the movie untill August 10. Bhimashankar Patil, the President of Karnataka Navnirman Sene, filed a petition to ban Silk Sakkath Hot from screening.

Patil claims that the film projects women in a bad taste, and that there are vulgar scenes in the movie in the name of sensuous sequences. The film supposedly sends a bad message to society and allowing such films for screening will harm the society. He also claimed that the posters of the film are as bad as the movie, and it should be removed with immediate effect.

Silk Sakkath Hot has been cleared by the local Regional Censor Board with an 'A' (Adult) certificate.

 

 Update: Supercensor...

Pakistan's film censor bans Man of Steel


Link Here 2nd August 2013  full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion

Man Steel Two Disc Special UltraVioletPakistan's film censor board has banned the screening of Sanjay Dutt's Policegiri and Zack Snyder's Man Of Steel.

No specific reasons were cited for the decision. A press release issued by the Central Film Censor Board only said the ban was imposed as the films violated the Motion Pictures Ordinance of 1979.

Both movies were released in cinema halls in major Pakistani cities several weeks ago. They are still being screened in some cities like Karachi and Lahore.

 

 Update: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It...

Pakistan's internet censors come to blows over the continued blocking of YouTube


Link Here 23rd July 2013  full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

Pakistan flagA meeting to discuss supposedly blasphemous material and the ban on YouTube turned into an exchange of abuse as the Pakistan Telecom Authority lobbed the issue in the court of parliament, asking legislators to pass a new law and create a new set-up to decide what is blasphemous.

After witnessing nasty scenes in the official meeting, the PTA proposed to the government to enact new laws through parliament for establishing an independent department having the mandate as well as the authority to block access of such links on the internet.

The PTA feel pressure from all sides as the Government pushes for an end to the ban even though supposed blasphemy continues to be available. They clearly do not like being asked to make the decisions about the impasse and would rather someone else did it. Official sources explained:

No one is ready to take responsibility for opening up of YouTube as the PTA is just executing the orders of the Inter-Ministerial Committee and orders of other top officials. We have proposed to the government to table a bill in parliament and establish an independent forum having the authority to define the blasphemy material and then impose ban on it.

There is nothing in the PTA act authorising a ban on YouTube and it has been done so far on the directives of the inter-ministerial committee or the court orders. Without introducing a dedicated censor, the issue of blasphemous material on the internet cannot be resolved, they added.

Official sources who attended the meeting told The News that representatives of an NGO, Bytes for All, accused the top officials of the PTA in the presence of several stakeholders saying you are a liar and threatened to fix them. I have never seen such a disgusting attitude during an official meeting in my whole life, a participant of the meeting said.

Update: Referred to the Lahore High Court

26th September 2013.  See  article from  techcrunch.com

The year-long saga of the Pakistan government's YouTube ban has just taken another twist, as a case to unblock the website has been referred to a panel of Lahore High Court justices who will now decide whether the country's haphazard internet censorship regime is unconstitutional. It's another reprieve for the government's IT minister Anusha Rehman , who has overseen an increasingly oppressive online censorship regime in Pakistan.

 

  Flying Fish...

Movie banned in Sri Lanka after film festival showing offends the military


Link Here 15th July 2013

flying fish Igillena maluwo (Flying Fish) is a 2011 Sri Lanka drama by Sanjeewa Pushpakumara.
With Chaminda Sampath Jayaweera, Rathnayaka Marasinghe and Siththi Mariyam. YouTube icon IMDb

In light of the controversy arisen over a the screening of the Sinhala film Igilena Malu (Flying Fish) at a French Film Festival last week, the Public Performance Board (PPB) has said they are seeking Attorney General's advice regarding the course of action that should be followed in the future, when being notified or providing approval for foreign film festivals held in Sri Lanka.

PPB Chairman Gamini Sumanasekara speaking to Daily Mirror said they decided to seek legal advice concerning the specifications of the legal provisions granted to the PPB since at present, they are not equipped with the legal provisions to take action against screenings of any films that might contain material that might not agree with local audiences, at foreign film festivals held in Sri Lanka.

The French Film festival organized by the Embassy of France, was scheduled for June 18 to July 14 was suspended immediately it was subjected to criticism and controversy following the screening of the Sinhala movie Flying Fish on July 11.

The controversy arose due to its content that supposedly features degrading and offensive content regarding the armed forces of Sri Lanka.

Concurrently, the Defense Ministry too has launched an investigation into the film and its contents. Director General of the Media Center for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalle commenting on the investigation that has been initiated:

This film's contents , we have been told, depicts an offensive and derogatory image of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Therefore, we have decided to launch an investigation into its contents.

Meanwhile, the Embassy of France pointed out that it had obtained censor approval for the showing:

The Embassy received from the Public Performances Board the certifications authorizing the screening of all these movies. The conditions put to the screening of Flying Fish, such as its one time only presentation to a selected invited audience without children have been respected.

 

  Too Taboo...

Pakistan film censors ban Raanjhanaa for its theme of mixed religion romance


Link Here 4th July 2013  full story: Banned Films in Pakistan...Sensitive issues of image and religion

raanjhanaaThe Pakistan Film Censor Board has banned the exhibition of the film Raanjhanaa because of its supposedly controversial theme .

Amjad Rasheed, the importer of Raanjhanaa , told The Express Tribune that he received a letter from CBFC with directives to shelve the film's release. The letter from CBFC states that the film portrays an inapt image of a Muslim girl falling in love with a Hindu man and having an affair with him.

The Bollywood film's plot portrays Muslim girl Zoya falling in love with Kundan and later Jasjeet Singh. Kundan falls for Zoya at first sight. He follows her to school. After getting slapped 16 times by Zoya, she agrees to meet him behind a temple, but the meeting does not turn out well as Zoya finds out that he's Hindu. As the story unfolds, Zoya also develops feelings for Kundan, however, her parents find out about it and send her off to Delhi in order to protect the family's honour. Later in Delhi, Zoya falls in love with Jasjeet Singh, a student leader.

 

  Time for Censorship...

Sri Lanka bans Time magazine lest the people see evidence that religion is flawed


Link Here 3rd July 2013

time buddhist terrorSri Lanka has banned the latest issue of Time magazine over its cover story on Myanmar's Buddhist-Muslim clashes, which it claimed could hurt religious sentiment on the island. Presumably Sri Lanka is trying to conceal that religion has a dark side.

Customs department spokesman Leslie Gamini said they held the July 1 issue because it carried a photo of a prominent Myanmar monk under the headline: The Face of Buddhist Terror:

We did not allow this issue to be distributed in Sri Lanka because we felt it could hurt the religious sentiments of the people.

Myanmar also banned the same issue.