Movies

Censor's axe on Ranbir's towel drop: Regressive?

MUMBAI: Ranbir Kapoor‘s towel dropping scene in the Saawariya song Jab se tere naina has been axed by the Censor Board. It is being argued that when Ranbir’s father, Rishi Kapoor made his debut in Bobby he too dropped his towel before an amused Aruna Irani.

The question worth asking though is - the scene was not cut then, so why axe a similar one almost three decades later? Is the Censor Board getting regressive?


Censor Board Film Certification (CBFC) RO Vinayak Azad says, "I think the issue is being blown out of proportion. It was a voluntary decision by the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali when we explained to him that the scene would not be appropriate for a U-certificate film. He opted to chop it."


Bhansali has placed on record that though in principle he is against any cuts he has agreed this time as the shot did not make any difference to the flow of the story. Had the scene been retained it would have resulted in the film getting an A-certificate.


A source who understands the process of certification says, "It‘s to do with the five people who watch a film at a given time. If they feel that a particular scene or dialogue is offensive then they make the necessary recommendations. If a similar scene was passed years ago I don‘t see why this was needed to be cut now? Also, as there are no set rules or policies regarding such objections, there is not much one can do."


Nudity-frontal or otherwise is not new to Indian films. The Supreme Court allowed a scene with frontal nudity in Bandit Queen. A few years later, in Split Wide Open Rahul Bose too dropped his pants under the direct gaze of the audiences.


Sure, both the films were passed with A-certificates. But does a fleeting peek at the derriere of an actor amount to obscenity in times of a Madonna or Mallika Sherawat? Are young audiences not accustomed to watching raunchy numbers from B-grade films?


"Being progressive does not mean exposing," argues Azad. "People have clichéd opinions of censorship issues. We are walking a tight rope and need to therefore do a balancing act without adversely affecting cinema. We are not into moral policing. Our job is to certify films and rate them in accordance to the audience they are targeted at. I can‘t comment on what transpired 34 years ago (when Rishi Kapoor dropped his towel). This is a grey area. Not something that is either right or wrong. Being liberal is being open to ideas and ideologies - not just allowing nudity and sex."


So whilst directors continue to remain subject to the mercy of the five members on the Censor Board panel, audiences may have to wait another three decades for a peek of a derriere. In the meantime, let’s continue to watch all those raunchy music videos.

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