Banning Bollywood Films, by the Censor Board, is an Age Old Practice!

Censor board in India is notorious for being regressive and taking a step back, whenever it comes to releasing a movie with a strong and powerful message.  Some of these movies were banned because of explicit content, and some for being too women oriented. Some were banned because of the fear of fundamentalists, releasing their angst in public and some, because for being too ahead of their time. Any movie which went against Censor Board’s over sensitive nature, never released or released very late, with several cuts. Few victims of the cinematic conservatism of the Indian Censor Board are:

Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016)

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Initially banned in India for being too woman-oriented, Lipstick Under My Burkha explores the sexual awakenings and personal struggles of four small-town Indian women. The Central Board of Film Certification said the movie had “abusive words, audio pornography, and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society”.

Black Friday (2004)

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Chronicling the 1993 Mumbai blasts, which shocked the entire country, Black Friday gathered dust in the Censor Board office for three years before finally releasing in 2004. Directed by Anurag Kashyap, the movie starred Imtiaz Ali, Kay Kay Menon, and Pavan Malhotra in important roles.

The Pink Mirror (2003)

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Touted as the first Indian film to convincingly focus on transsexuals and gays, The Pink Mirror explored the side of Indian society which is still very much a taboo. On the account of finding the film too ‘vulgar and offensive’, the Central Board of Film Certification never let the movie release in India, despite it receiving immense critical acclaim internationally.

Kama Sutra (1996)

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Open discussions about sex are a complete no-no in India, even if, the discourse is about an Indian literature by the name of Kama Sutra. In spite of receiving a splendid response globally, Mira Nair’s film starring Rekha, Indira Varma, and Naveen Andrews, was never released here.

Fire (1996)

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Released in the same year as Kama Sutra, this was another Mira Nair film, which stirred controversy across the nation. Depicting homosexual relations between two women, the movie starring Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, was after a long struggle, cleared by the Censor Board on one ridiculous condition- that Nandita Das’ character name be changed to Nita from Sita.

Bandit Queen (1994)

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Seema Biswas’ claim to fame, Bandit Queen was a biographical film based on the life of the famous Indian bandit, Phoolan Devi. This Shekhar Kapur directorial was banned because of the highly explicit and abusive content, which obviously didn’t go down well with the Censor Board. Also, Phoolan Devi, herself, questioned the authenticity of the film. The movie was released much later and won the National Film Award for Best Feature.

Kissa Kursi Ka (1977)

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A political spoof on the Indian Emergency, Kissa Kursi Ka was not only banned because of obvious reasons but all the prints of the film were apparently burned by Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay Gandhi. Starring Shabana Azmi, Raj Babbar, and Surekha Sikri, the movie, which was a satire on the political system of the country, never saw the light of the day.

Garam Hawa (1973)

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Portraying a Muslim family’s side of the story during the partition of India, Garam Hawa, starring the legendary Balraj Sahni, was banned because the Censor Board feared that it might hurt the sentiments of the Hindu community, leading to communal riots. The movie was released eight months later, only after “necessary” cuts.

Posted by

Manvi Sharma

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