Director Jayan Cherian’s Ka Bodyscapes which has been in the news over certification by the Central Board of film Certification, was recently refused certification as it felt that the film glorified the subject of gay and homosexual relationship, nudity and showed Hanuman in a derogatory manner as gay. And this may create law and order problem in society. The Board also seem to have objection in showing a Muslim woman to be masturbating.
The film was reviewed by the board for the second time, as an earlier rejection was challenged by the makers via a writ petition. In the judgement passed in December last year by the High Court, Justice PB Sureshkumar had said that mere references to homosexuality and masturbation of women may not amount to obscenity or vulgarity.
Incidents like these make us think about the provisions in the constitution to think and act freely. Doesn’t creative freedom entail freedom of expression? That said, the society is bound to have different opinion on works of artists. But does that mean that a piece of art, in this case a film be denied certification. Why not give A or adult certification to films with objectionable content and make sure that minors aren’t allowed to enter the cinema hall projecting it?
In the teaser of the film, Ka Bodyscapes, it hints of impending nudity and erotic scenes between people of the same sex. That necessarily doesn’t give the Board reason to shoot a film down. The director in an earlier interview had clarified that he has nothing against Hanuman or Hindutva nor does the film show the Hindu deity in poor light or being gay.
Cherian’s first film too Papilio Buddha courted trouble with the censors. The movie was allowed to release in the theatres after 56 cuts. It was however pulled out of the International Film Festival of India and the International Film Festival of Kerala. The film had premiered at the Berlin Film Festival.
“The High court had stated in its decision that the film should be certified within 90 days. But the CBFC have overlooked this. They have gone head and outrightly banned the film due to references to Hinduism and Islam in the film which is just ridiculous. The court had asked the Board only to blur certain parts or paintings if they were found to be objective. We are a so-called democracy, but an artist’s freedom to expression is being quashed. Appealing to the Supreme court looks like the only option now,” says Jayan Cherian.
What’s the point of a film if it is never to be viewed? What about its maker? Are film makers like Cherian to go into hiding or live in exile like Salman Rushdie or MF Husain? Ka Bodyscapes, the story of a gay painter and a kabbadi player is said to offend human sensibilities. Being gay, queer or engaging in sexual acts with a person from the same sex is considered a crime in our society as per the infamous section 377.
This however, isn’t the first film to come under the scanner by the Censor Board. Udta Punjab too, had to make a few obliged cuts before it was deemed fit for release. Deepa Mehta’s Fire too, was in trouble with the board back in 1998 due to depiction of lesbian romance. Lipstick Under my Burkha starring Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Phatak and directed by Alankrita Sharma too, is being refused certification by the Board’s Chairperson Pahlaj Nihlani by calling the story ‘lady oriented and their fantasy above life’. So now it looks like even feminist films will have to be treated with caution. As per the Cinematography Act, the Board is only allowed to certify and not suggest editorial changes.
What is more shocking, is that the same Board has granted certificates to movies like Kya Kool Hai Hum and Masti which have blatant sexual content and objectifies women! So, would this be protecting cultural sensibilities or plain hypocrisy?
Cover image courtesy: Ka Bodyscapes official website.