The film certification board is famously infamous for its notorious and atrocious sensibilities. There could be no kinder word to express my anger and frustration and I guess we need to call a spade a spade.
I firmly believe the nation is as good as the cinema it makes. Cinema is reflection of society, and society is a reflection of cinema. Banning truth from being seen or restricting it with our bigoted attitude and closed mindedness is a shame to the whole nation’s sensibilities. As a patriot, I take this very seriously.
The case in question now is this music video called Miss You. This video is made by former journalist and communications consultant Sharif Rangnekar.
The video shows two men in love. There are no words, there is not even a single kiss in the whole video. It shows a man assisting another man in shaving. Which, for the uninformed, is basically what you see in any barber shop closeby. The film has been given an A certificate. Which basically means that only adults are capable of understanding love between sexualities other than heterosexual.
It shows both the men under the shower, again, it doesn’t show both of them together under the shower. They are hugging and sleeping, again there is no total nudity and they are just as nude and less suggestive than Shashi Kapoor and Amitabh Bachchan in Silsila.
I think the CBFC needs a crash course in equality. Firstly, CBFC is a certification body, not a censor board. They were called the Central Board of Film Censors before 1983, even I thought they were the “censor board”, but now CBFC stands for Central Board of Film Certification. So, they are not people who should be handed over the scissors. They could recommend, they could certify films as Adults (A) and Unrestricted (U) (or Adults or “s” which is shown to special audiences which may be professionals.
It is certain that any certification body would have guidelines to do so. I pulled this extract from the CBFC website.
The Board of Film Certification shall ensure that-
i) Anti-social activities such as violence are not glorified or justified;
vii) Human sensibilities are not offended by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity;
ix) Scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented;
xiii) Visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitudes are not presented
I have highlighted the words that I guess the CBFC would have used to grant this film an A certificate.
Let’s begin with point i) vii) and ix) – human sensibilities. Well, two men in love doesn’t offend and should not offend any human sensibility. The Indian Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organisation, the American Psychiatric Association have all removed homosexuality from the list of mental disorders, which means that these are natural social orientations and not anti-social ones.
The recent Mental Healthcare Bill prevents discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. [View the entire Bill, especially clauses 15(2) and 21(1)(a), here.]
Now coming to point xiii). This is definitely scientific. And there is nothing anti-national in the scenes.
But there is everything anti-national in belittling the young minds of our nation and making them privy only to one kind of sexuality that is majorly seen in the world. India is a nation that prides itself on values of non-discrimination. This kind of discriminatory behaviour is what is anti-national.
I can share many examples of films where the CBFC crossed the line and was far more liberal.
Especially, they don’t see violence, which has been scientifically proven to impact young children as a matter at all. For instance, while I stand with Karan Johar for Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, I completely slam him for Agneepath. The film shows men being hanged, children as sex slaves and still gets a U/A certificate. Similarly, the recent Rajini-starrer Kabali got a U certificate despite all the bloodshed and gore despite grossly violating all the guidelines mentioned above.
I was in a mess some years back when my short film Amen was stuck with the CBFC. We had settled for an A certificate because we did feel the film had scenes and language that would not be appropriate for children. We were still asked to cut scenes in the short film, which would have got the film to 10 minutes from 25 minutes. One can just assume that they were homophobic. Of course we fought and we got an A certificate with a few cuts.
Here is the protest video that we made back then.
Now coming back to Miss You. Why is Miss You given an A certificate? Is it because of hypocrisy, homophobia or because it is not backed by some big production house and there is corruption?
I will leave the judgement to you.