Right after Udta Punjab went through a range of censorship issues, a film from Kerala also went through a similar fate, but for director Jayan Cheriyan, controversies are nothing new. Despite that, he continues his fight and bold film making attempts. His first movie Papilio Buddha was denied Censor board certification and the second one Ka Bodyscapes has also met with the same fate.
Ka Bodyscapes portrays the struggle of a gay painter, a rural kabaddi player, and their friend Sia, an activist who refuses to follow dominant norms of femininity. The movie faced the Censor Board flak, stating that it ‘offends human sensibilities by vulgarity, obscenity, and depravity.’ The board further justified the ban saying the movie has references to a woman masturbating, highlights ‘gay’ posters and shows Hindu religion and Hindu Gods in a bad light.
“This is the biggest reason that films released in Kerala are not accepted as an art form. The outright denial depicts the board sneering against the LGBT movement. The CBFC treats a gay as a criminal. The film is a same-sex love story; of course, there are several gay characters in it. According to the Cinematography Act, they can only certify and no editorial intervention can be done. So we are moving the court if our artistic convictions are not allowed,” says Jayan.
The director claims that the Board’s claims over references against the Hindu religion were not true. “The Censor Board first stated that Hindu God Hanuman was shown in poor light in Ka Bodyscapes. It is not true. The central character — a painter portrays his lover flying with a heap of books, like the mythical Hanuman figure carrying the mountain, in his art work. There are many titles from gay literature among the books and the face of the figure is clearly that of another character, not Hanuman,” explains Jayan.
“When they say the film was insulting the Hindu religion, they actually display their lack of understanding of the concepts in that religion. The times have changed, people and the audience have changed, but the system has not yet changed. We are still in a colonial hangover,” says Jayan.