Petition seeks Filmmakers to give Mandatory Disclaimer “Violence Against Women is a Punishable Offence”

As if disclaimers on parental guidance, characters being fictitious, the dangers of smoking, tobacco abuse and liquor consumption were not enough in films, filmmakers will have to add another one to the list. An NGO, based in Trivandrum has recently filed a petition before the State Human Rights Commission, to exhort filmmakers to make a disclaimer warning that, “Violence against women is punishable ” while scenes of women being the victim of any kind of violence is shown in the screen.

Shefin Kowdiar, President of Royal Kowdiar Protection Forum says, “This petition is all about bringing awareness to the people, who always argue for their rights, but they don’t care about their duties.” Shefin is a human right activist who has brought both social and civic issues to the attention of the concerned authorities. He believes that this campaign will help bring awareness to people regarding this issue.

He further added that, “There will always be people who will be against this petition, but we do it because it is our duty.”

According to Shefin, scenes involving violence against women, without the disclaimer, will lead to a growing number of young people heading towards the wrong path. He also believes that, this disclaimer will be helpful in understanding the consequences of crimes against women and will also help to prevent such atrocities from ever happening again. He feels that films have the ability to go down to the depths of our society and can influence the way people look at this issue.

“A movie is the depiction of life as it is, once you bring such warnings to the screen, you distract the audience and you would also lose the soul of the film” said renowned Malayalam film director Lal, when asked about this petition.

Anzar Khan, Malayalam director said that, “A movie is an art form, it is meant to be the representation of life as it is, Now we have a lot of limitations in that case.” He feels censor board should certify film according to its content and let the audience decide whether they want to watch it or not. “All these disclaimers, blurring and all of that simply distract the audience from the art that is the movie.”

According to Anzar, People have the ability to watch the movie as it is and chose what is right and wrong, nobody is going to stop smoking or drinking just because of these disclaimers. He feels that it is the same with the idea of introducing disclaimers for violence and rape against women. People have the brains to distinguish right from wrong. We have to let the people be the judge of that.

“It is comical if you ask me, people in Kerala are aware of all the violence that happen against women through social media, television and other mediums of information, I don’t think, slapping a statuary warning while such scenes are showed in the movie will make a difference to the mindset of the people,” says Liya Varghese, who has worked in Malayalam Film Industry.

In the case of smoking, the disclaimer was deemed necessary, because in a film there is no warning to indicate the health dangers caused by carcinogens. So the statuary warning had to be underlined and shown separately. Whether or not it has been effective is an entirely different matter.

Liya says that, “We have seen warning on smoking and alcohol consumption for years now, till to this day I have never met or heard of anyone that has changed their habits because of the statutory warnings that is shown in Movie screens.”

In 2013, renowned Hollywood director, Woody Allen decided he would rather scrap the Indian release of his film Blue Jasmine than run anti-smoking disclaimers whenever the characters reaches for a cigarette. In India, Anurag Kashyap was the first film maker to go all the way till Supreme Court to fight against “No Smoking” disclaimers. It was in 2014, at the time of the release of his film Ugly. Renowned directors in India have openly criticized declaimers of different kinds and that it can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Anandu Das, who works as Cinematographer in Tamil film industry says that, “This motive behind this idea is understandable, but I don’t feel that all films that have such scenes promote misogyny and expecting films to carry disclaimers for all violent sequence that have women in it seems absurd.”


Cover Image from here.

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