From 2016 through 2018, the world of cinema has faced multitudes of controversies. Many movies could not see the light of day, as Pahlaj Nihalani had banned them. ‘Un-Freedom’, a movie following the life of a liberal Muslim girl who is kidnapped. Parallel to this, it follows a lesbian relationship. But Pahlaj Nihalani banned it under the notion it was a “sad event”.
According to him, the “rules” are more important than a good movie. He had proceeded to cut the kissing scenes from the Bond franchise. Movies like ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha‘ have even gone through extensive cuts and snips because it was too “female oriented”.
But movies like ‘Mastizaade‘ and ‘Kya Kool Hai Hum 3‘ were passed just so they could shed their ‘sanskaari‘ image.
He was succeeded by songwriter and lyricist, Prasoon Joshi. If you thought that things would be better, you were wrong. Comparatively, it was. But then came Children’s Film Society (CFS) with their movie – ‘Chidiakhana‘.
The movie is about a boy who lives in Bihar and aspires to become a footballer and movies to Mumbai to follow the same.
In January, the Board issued the ‘Universal/Adult (U/A)’ certificate to the film owing to a slur used in the movie and a particular scene. CFS claims that the movie is meant for the eyes of children and will also be screened in schools.
After that, it filed a petition against CBFC. The bench had justices S C Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel presiding over the hearing.
“Are You Ostriches?”
The Bombay High Court slammed CBFC for its refusal to issue the ‘Universal (U)’ certificate to the movie that has been meant for the eyes of children.
“Are you ostriches? Put your head in the sand and pretend something does not exist. How else does one show and explain these issues to a child? Is it not better to show such films to the child and explain that this is what happens and this is wrong? You are forming an opinion that the whole population is infantile and imbecile and you are the only one with an iota of intelligence to decide for everyone.”
According to the CBFC, if the movie follows the rules that have been laid down by the Board then it will grant the movie a ‘U/A’ certification. Irritated by the irony of it, the Bombay HC asked how can the board grant a ‘U/A’ certificate irrespective of whether the scenes are there or not.
Justice Patel said, “We actually wonder if the CBFC officials have children of their own. You (CBFC) are a certification board and not a censor board. You will not decide what one wants to watch and see.”
“Nobody has given you intellectual morality and authority to decide what one wants to watch and see,” he further added.
If you think about it, children can learn better about the problems faced by the world – racism, casteism, child labour, drug abuse, and other issues like suicide through films. The cinema has the ability to reach out to a wide range of audience – from kids to adults. It’s the only way these issues can be propagated to the tiny minds.