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South Asia Censorship News

2015: Oct-Dec

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Sensitive Kisses...

Indian film censor sacked after commenting on the cut kisses in Spectre

Link Here5th December 2015
An Indian film censor has been sacked for commenting on the ludicrous censorship of the Bond film, Spectre .

Regional Officer of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Nagendra Swamy's 'vacated his post' on Friday and made way for Natasha D'Souza.

Reacting to CBFC's silly stand on the kissing scene in Spectre , which was given a U/A certificate after imposing two verbal and visual cuts, Swamy had said in an interview to a newspaper: A kiss is a kiss...when CBFC wanted to cut it, why did it allow 10 seconds of it? He argued that they should have either let it run or cut it out entirely. By doing this, we are violating our own guidelines, he had said, noting that CBFC guidelines do not ban showing of kissing in movies.

My statement on the decision of CBFC might be the reason for my transfer, Swamy told The Hindu newspaper.



Tit for Tat...

After British press mockery of Indian film censors cutting Spectre, a local newspaper points out a film that was cut by the BBFC but was uncut in India

Link Here27th November 2015
Thoongaavanam is a 2015 India thriller by Rajesh M Selva.
Starring Kamal Haasan, Prakash Raj and Trisha Krishnan. Youtube linkBBFC link IMDb

The British press have been mocking India over the last week with the news that the Indian film censor cut James Bond's kissing scenes in Spectre.

So perhaps as a little bit of a riposte, an Indian newspaper has pointed out an example where BBFC cuts were made for cinema release for a film that the Indian censors passed uncut.

Actually the claims in the Indian newspaper are slightly inaccurate, as the newspaper reports:

The Indian Censor Board has competition from unexpected quarters: their conservative British counterparts.

In the line of fire is Kamal Haasan's new thriller Thoongavanam that has been granted a 15+ certification by the British Censor Board. And that, too, only after the huge action sequence between Kamal Haasan and his leading lady Trisha was toned down. Kamal Haasan said:

It was very surprising. The Indian Censor Board had no objection to my taking on Trisha man-to-man...or man-to-woman in a one-to-one combat.

In fact the UK BBFC category cuts were required for a 12A rated 2015 cinema release. The BBFC would have passed the film 15 uncut but the distributors wanted a 12A, so accepted the cuts. The BBFC commented:

The distributor chose to remove shots of strong violence and bloodshed (in this instance, a scene of suffocation, shootings, sight of blood spurts and sight of bloody injury detail) in order to achieve a 12A rating. A 15 without cuts was available.



Updated: Too Much Bonding...

India's film censor makes several cuts to Spectre

Link Here24th November 2015
Its not only British audiences that are viewing a censored version of the new James Bond film Spectre, but Indian audiences will also suffer an incomplete version.

Censors at the Central Board of Film Classification have given the film a UA (children allowed if accompanied by adults) rating after 4 cuts for language and kissing:

  • Two cuts were made to shorten James Bond's kissing
  • Two cuts were made to remove the words 'fuck' and 'arsehole'. (This seems to be a false accusation as the word 'fuck' doesn't actually get used in the film).

A source said:

Both of Daniel Craig's kisses with his co-stars have been reduced by 50 per cent. The censor board had nothing against James Bond kissing ...BUT... the length of the kisses were found to be unnecessarily excessive. We heard that Ranbir Kapoor's kissing scenes in Tamasha has also been reduced by half. We wonder how the Censor Board decides how much kissing is enough.

Update: Chief censor seems to act like a megalomaniac Bond villain

20th November 2015. See  article from

Dissent against Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani appears to be gathering strength with some members planning to make a formal representation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and I&B minister Arun Jaitley. Members of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) have expressed concern at Nihalani's unilateral decision making style and cavalier attitude.

Board members said that cuss words were still being arbitrarily snipped from films (despite the Board's opposition) and decisions being made on films without taking the Board in to confidence. One member explained:

There are a few of us who feel that the chairperson has been working on his own accord without listening to anyone on the Board. This is unfair. We are planning to approach the PM and the I&B minister on the issue.

Nihalani has faced social media derision after the Board ruled kissing scenes of Daniel Craig with Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux in the new James Bond release Spectre as too extensive and had them trimmed by half.

Former I&B secretary and Board member Raghu Menon in a recent letter to fellow members said that he was disturbed at being treated in a cavalier and offhand fashion by Nihalani  and the utter insensitivity and disregard of the I&B ministry. He said:

I have closely observed and have been involved in the working of the CBFC for the last 20 years in various capacities when it was headed by luminaries like Shakti Samanta, Vijay Anand, Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore, Leela Samson etc, but never have I seen it sink to such levels of total disregard for the Board Members. It would be better to disband the Board if it is found to be so irrelevant.

Update: Skyfall too

22nd November 2015. See article from

Chief Pahlaj Nihalani has been justifying his disgraceful Spectre cuts to Indian tabloids. He said that steamy scenes were also cut from the previous Bond movie Skyfall , but people made no fuss about it. So why is it an issue if the Board cut down the duration of kissing scenes in Spectre by 20 seconds, he asks.

Update: A better informed source

24th November 2015. See  article from

A better informed source reveals that the Indian film censor's dialogue cuts to Spectre were:

  • 'idiot' instead of 'asshole'
  • 'bighead and cats' instead of 'bastard and balls'.



Cowtowing to Extremism...

Indian art exhibit vandalised by religious extremists

Link Here22nd November 2015
Organizers of an art fair in India say right-wing Hindu extremists have vandalised an exhibit of a Styrofoam cow that was suspended in midair using a balloon. The activists claimed that the installation was offensive.

R.B. Gauttam, an organizer of the Jaipur Art Summit, said that the exhibit was meant to highlight how cows suffer after ingesting plastic waste at India's many garbage dumps.



Update: Belief in censorship...

Facebook censors exploited by those wishing to ban atheist websites in India

Link Here17th November 2015
Full story: Facebook Censorship...Facebook quick to censor
A petition is urging Mark Zuckerberg to support freedom of expression in India by unblocking an atheist Facebook group with over 13,000 members titled Indian Atheists Debate Corner.

Facebook, the petition said, had not given any reason for the blockade. One day users in India who tried to visit the site were simply hit with a message that the content was unavailable. This was not the first time a Facebook page for atheists had been censored.

As usual, when shoddy Facebook censorship obtains sufficient publicity then Facebook hold up their hands, claim it was all ghastly mistake, and restore the site. Of course victims unable to raise the required publicity stay censored.

Presumably the atheist groups were flagged by Facebook users who disagree with the website. According to Facebook's transparency report released earlier this week, it censored the postings of thousands of Indian Facebook users because they were anti-religious or was deemed to be hate speech that could cause unrest and disharmony within India.

Facebook would only say that the Indian Atheists Debate Corner was blocked after a reviewer found it violated Facebook rules. After examining the page again as a result of an inquiry, Facebook decided the page did not violate its rules.

It's a reminder that Facebook censors, as The Economist wrote last year, operate under a cloak of anonymity, with no accountability to users. It is often unclear why one piece of content is removed, while another is not. But in failing to better scrutinize take-down requests and their legal underpinnings, Facebook has unwittingly contributed to a long-standing culture of religious persecution and censorship in India.



Update: The sensitive anatomy of a TV censor...

Indian TV censors whinge about a lesbian scene in Grey's Anatomy

Link Here6th November 2015
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
India's Broadcasting Content Complaints Council (BCCC) has issued a notice to Star World for showing a lesbian encounter and for supposedly denigrating women in its popular soap Grey's Anatomy in June. The notice follows complaints from the ministry of information and broadcasting (I&B).

According to the ministry complaint, the scenes are indecent, vulgar. The BCCC has sought a response by December 1.

After viewing the episode, BCCC headed by Justice (retired) Mukul Mudgal was of the opinion that the content appeared to be explicit and objectionable.  A senior BCCC member added:

Keeping Indian audiences in mind we felt that the scenes were not tasteful. So we have asked them to respond.

In the episode that attracted complaints from viewers a lady doctor tells her male colleague about how she failed to please her partner. She asks him to teach her how to satisfy a woman's physical needs by demonstrating it.



Update: Ultimate Censorship...

More Bangladeshi writers presumably murdered by religious extremists

Link Here1st November 2015
Full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief
A publisher of secular books has been hacked to death in the Bangladeshi capital. In a separate attack in Dhaka, police said two other writers and a publisher were stabbed and shot at a publishing house.

Occurences of Islamist violence have been growing in Bangladesh after at least four atheist bloggers were murdered in the country this year. The attacks have been linked by police to domestic Islamist extremists, while Islamic State has claimed responsibility for three other attacks.

The body of Faisal Abedin Deepan, of the Jagriti Prokashoni publishing house, was found inside his office, said senior police officer Shibly Noman. Earlier in the day, publisher Ahmed Rahim Tutul was attacked in the office of the Shudhdhoswar publishing house and seriously wounded. Two writers were also wounded in that attack. All three of the victims were hospitalised, and Tutul was in critical condition, police said.

Both Deepan and Tutal had published books by Bangladeshi-American writer and blogger Avijit Roy , who was hacked to death in February . He was one of the four secular bloggers killed in Bangladesh this year.

A local Islamist group, Ansarullah Bangla Team, had claimed responsibility for the killings and recently threatened to kill more bloggers.



Heard the one about the Supreme Court judge who fell of his bench laughing...

Indian Supreme Court to hear petition to ban online jokes about sikhs

Link Here 31st October 2015
India's Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case which seeks a ban on jokes about Sikhs. The petition claims that such jokes are a violation of sikh's right to equality with fellow citizens and an attack on the dignity of the community. The petitioner said the court should order the government to ensure such online jokes are banned or blocked.

Filed by Sikh lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury, the petition also says offenders should be told to deposit a compensation in the National Legal Aid Fund. It adds that the Ministries of Telecom and Information and Broadcasting should either ban the websites or direct them to remove such jokes since they tend to portray the sikh community as people of low intellect .

Chowdhury complained that she had to suffer humiliation because of such jokes even when she was abroad, and that her children insist on not having Singh or Kaur as surnames to avoid embarrassment.

But judges told her that there are many Sikhs who do not mind such jokes:

Many people we know take these jokes sportingly. It may not be an insult but only some casual comic statements for amusement. You want all such jokes to stop but Sikhs may themselves oppose this.

The case will be heard in a month.



Update: Dancing Back...

India's Supreme Court overturns ban on bar dancers in the state of Maharashtra

Link Here16th October 2015
Full story: Bombay Dancing Girls Banned...Bombay ban dancing girls from bars
Acknowledging the right of women bar dancers to follow their profession, India's Supreme Court suspended a law banning dance performances in Maharashtra and directed the state government to grant licences to the bar owners without insisting on the prohibitory legislation.

Critical of the 2014 amendment in the Maharashtra Police Act that had imposed a total ban on dance bars and dance performances, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and P C Pant noted that the state government re-enacted a similar piece of legislation after the top court struck down a prohibitory provision in 2013.

The bench rejected Maharashtra government's argument that the two provisions were different and the 2014 amendment was perfectly valid. The difference that is perceptible from the provisions which have been reproduced above are really immaterial, it said.

However the judges added a caveat that no performance of dance shall remotely be expressive of any kind of obscenity in any manner and that the licensing authority can take steps so that the individual dignity of a woman is not affected and there remains no room for any kind of obscenity.



Update: De-adultisation...

Indian film censor allows producers to cut their adult rated films for TV

Link Here11th October 2015
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults
India's crazed film censor has decided to allow producers to voluntarily cut adult rated films for TV. Chief censor, Pahlaj Nihalani, said:

As we all know, all Adult films have to be re-certified before telecast. However producers complained about a delay in the re-certification process as the CBFC often found the material unpalatable for family viewing on the home medium. Now we'll allow producers to make the cuts that would make their 'A' films eligible for a 'UA' certificate and bring their films to us.

This is not to say that the films would become automatically eligible when submitted.

We will examine the modified version and see if it's fit for family audiences on television and then grant the 'UA' certificate with changes if necessary. Also, this new rule is only for films with individual scenes for mature audience which can be cut and detached from the film. For films with an adult theme the 'UA' certificate required for telecast remains out of bounds.

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