Monday, June 05, 2006

Censorship in India

Since I make the point about extra legal censorship in relation to the movie Fanaa, I wish to take this point further. It is not clear yet, if the theatre owners did not screen the movie because of Aamir Khan's comments on the Narmada Displaced persons or the higher revenue that Yah Raj films was trying to bully out of the market. It could be either. But I wish to use this occasion to draw to specific instances in the past where arbitrary censorship has been excercised by the state. Gujarat in the post-Godhra phase has been particularly intolerant and prone to imposing a ban.

Here is a link from the June 10 2006 edition of the tehelka which lists the specific instances. It is titled, "

I will paste the contents here.


After the post-Godhra riots in 2002, documentaries and plays have been ‘blacked-out’ in Gujarat
• Saumya Joshi’s play Dost Chaukkas Ahin Ganagr Vastu Hatu had a brief run in 2002, before it was halted
• Maulana Azad, a play by Sayeed Alam, was not allowed to be staged in November 2003. The problem — one line which blamed Sardar Patel for the Partition
• Suno Nadi Kya Kehti Hai, a play directed by Hiren Gandhi was banned in 2004
• Chand Bujh Gaya could not be released in Gujarat in 2005 as it directly referred to the political nature of the post-Godhra riots
• Final solutions, a documentary on the 2002 carnage by Rakesh Sharma, banned by the Censor Board in 2004. The ban was later revoked

The situation as a whole in the country has been much better placed then just a couple of years before. The recalcitrance is taking place on regional level and mostly ignored by the state. I paste below another link from the June 10 2006 edition tehelka which is titled, "India Censored: Intolerance of the provocative is as old as the state".

The details are pasted.


Intolerance of the provocative is as old as the State

THE DA VINCI CODE Both, the film and the book, banned in Nagaland. Film banned in Punjab

Banned by the Maharashtra government in January. Claimed to have contained “insulting writings” about Shivaji and his parents

MR JINNAH a play by Arvind Gaur
Banned by the police, though it was not spelt out officially

Laine book, banned 2003

DWIKHANDITO by Taslima Nasreen
Banned by the West Bengal government on the ground that it hurt Muslim sentiments

WATER by Deepa Mehta
Right-wing vandals attacked the cast and crew of the film 1998

MI NATHURAM GODSE BOLTOY The then BJP-led Maharashtra government banned the play


FIRE The film’s posters were torn, the film taken out from theatres 1992

CITY OF JOY The unit of the film starring Patrick Swayze, Shabana Azmi attacked by CPM supporters. Passed off as genuine anger of Kolkatans for depicting the city in a poor light

THE SATANIC VERSES by Salman Rushdie
India becomes the first country to ban it. In 1989, riots in Srinagar and Bombay saw 13 deaths, one in Srinagar, 12 in Bombay 1988

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST by Martin Scorsese Film remains banned in India because of fears that it will incite riots

BEDTIME STORY by Kiran Nagarkar
Play banned; was not staged till 17 years later 1974

SAKHARAM BINDER Vijay Tendulkar’s play banned after initial performances

GHASHIRAM KOTWAL Tendulkar’s play banned initially for its alleged anti-Brahmin stance Late 1940s and early 1950s

Many of Saadat Hasan Manto’s stories banned by the government for being ‘sex-oriented’

And finally,Morarji Desai allegedly wanted the temples at Konark and Khajuraho covered with bed-sheets because they were “against Indian culture”


The Kopa People said...

Ghasiram Kotwal was banned?? Well, who decided that it will offend a particular section of our "civilzed" society?...the government? a political party? or jingoism? or people with warped ideas of religion?

A friend once said that Taslima Nasreen shouldnt be allowed to write. Why? Let her write but dont let her force her thoughts on you, I said. And she aint making you read her book at gunpoint, is she?

Ban pornogrophy, all that promotes child abuse and exploitation.

Art and artists should never be censored. And nobody decides what I should watch, read, eat, wear, promote, discuss, ignore and neglect! Zimble!!!

The Kopa People said...

'And finally,Morarji Desai allegedly wanted the temples at Konark and Khajuraho covered with bed-sheets because they were “against Indian culture”' is covering everything with bed sheets "Indian Culture"?

And would Mr Desai be offended if they had covered these temples with satin instead of the bedsheets made from cotton or Khadi???

aya said...

Still, a strenghth of Indian democracy is that you can watch the film in other states and there is a room for debates about censorship. If it is done by the central gov level, it is a different thing.

But in the end, it is not a state to decide what we should watch or read. I do not agree any of this paternalistic policies by any gov.

xanjukta said...

A word on Mr. Morarjee Desai... Shouldn't we ban the piss-drinkers? ISn't it plain unhygenic?? Health code-violation... And Da Vinci Code was a bad film to boot...

Abhigyan said...

It is something I also have been thinking on for a long time. The fact is we with our Western-style press and democracy have done much better relative to possibly all our Asian counterparts, possibly with the exception of Japan which developed a century quicker than the rest.
Yet, when compared to absolute standards of censorship, India has taken the lead in all sorts of moral policing. For instance, forget the quality of literature of 'Da Vinci Code', can any Indian author pull of any such story about semi-respected Indian religious figures? It took the Shankaracharya to give us own own version of Da Vinci.