Heterosexuals can breathe easy. They can kiss as much as they like, if they are in Paris. But same-sex intimacy? Nope, Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani can’t have any of that. That’s what we gather from the Befikre song Labon Ka Karobaar, which is a pastiche of various couples kissing, in Aditya Chopra’s latest Ranveer Singh and Vaani Kapoor starrer. The official video of the song, which came out long before the film’s release, shows at least two gay couples kissing. But we’re disappointed to see a pruned-down version of the music video, that accompanies Befikre’s opening credits in theatres.
Yes, we have removed the gay kiss from the first song in Befikre. The whole song is about various couples of different ages kissing all over Paris. We felt the gay kiss would not be acceptable to all the viewers.Pahlaj Nihalani, CBFC Chief
Apparently, the censor board chief discussed the removal of the gay kisses from the song’s theatrical version with director Aditya Chopra, who raised no objection at all.
Screenwriter and filmmaker Apurva Asrani, who wrote Hansal Mehta’s film Aligarh (based on the story of a homosexual teacher in Aligarh Muslim University), says the removal of the gay kiss is not too calamitous.
I haven’t seen Befikre. But I hear that the censor board has allowed Ranveer Singh’s nude shot. So that’s a progressive sign. About the homophobia, I had a huge problem with how the censors stopped Aligarh’s trailer from reaching a wider audience. But unlike what you’re telling me about the gay kiss in Befikre, the CBFC did not touch the gay kiss in the theatrical version of Aligarh. I don’t think they were homophobic in that case at least.Apurva Asrani, Writer of Hansal Mehta’s Aligarh
Filmmaker Onir says that he’s not surprised by the removal of the gay kiss in Befikre.
I really don’t know how Mr Pahlaj Nihalani defines the kisses as sexual and non-sexual and then proceeds to grant Befikre a ‘UA’ certification, because according to him the kisses are non-sexual, when in fact the couple is clearly in the mood for sex.Onir, Filmmaker
Actress Celina Jaitley, a committed gay rights activist, feels that it is ridiculous to ‘protect’ audiences from gay insinuations.
Homosexuality is an important part of the modern-day narrative. Unfortunately the Indian censor board continues to be a reflection of a massive section of regressive Indian society. It refuses to evolve with cinema and continuously portrays an archaic mentality towards evolved cinema, which is the only medium that is capable of disseminating stereotypes, misconceptions as well as the marginalisation of the large LGBT minority in India.Celina Jaitley, Actress & Gay Rights Activist
(The love of Lata Mangeshkar 's voice and Hindi movies - in that order - has propelled Subhash K Jha to the pursuit of journalism for over 30 years.)