Entertainment Bollywood 22 Jul 2018 Under the scanner?

Under the scanner?

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | VANESSA VIEGAS
Published Jul 22, 2018, 12:05 am IST
Updated Jul 22, 2018, 12:05 am IST
Ketan Mehta’s 2014 film, Rang Rasiya was mired in controversy for its nude scenes.
Rajshri Deshpande as Subhadra Devalekar in Sacred Games.
 Rajshri Deshpande as Subhadra Devalekar in Sacred Games.

Ever since its release, Netflix original Sacred Games has been embroiled in a controversy for frontal nudity. Will this bring streaming platforms under the censor scanner?

The first season of the Netflix original Sacred Games, directed by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, has been widely appreciated for its adaptation of Vikram Chandra’s novel of the same name. The show has also been mired in controversy for certain scenes featuring Rajshri Deshpande who has shed her clothes and inhibitions for the role. Screenshots from her lovemaking sequence have made it across the Internet and to Whatsapp groups, and have been sent to her accounts. But the actress isn’t perturbed, as she nonchalantly reveals, “We all have the same body. I’m not degrading a woman, rather showing a beautiful side of a person. It doesn’t bother me when all these things that happen. I am very comfortable in my own skin. And I believe and trust in the maker,” she asserts.

 

While we seem to be at the cusp of yet another revolutionary era with streaming giants such as Netflix and Amazon turning out to be propitious platforms for Bollywood actors and directors to express their artistic views, they seem to be coming under the censor scanner. Though there isn’t a legal reason for streaming services to censor their content as The Cinematograph Act and its rules are the basis on which film censorship is carried out in India, only regulates censorship of films in theaters, home media, and TV.

Seema Biswas in Bandit Queen Seema Biswas in Bandit Queen

 

Historically, Bollywood is no stranger to nudity. Some of these vociferous films are often brushed off as  art house films, denied commercial releases and have to march in defiance to the famed halls of national and international film festivals across the globe. Films such as Bandit Queen (1994), Fire (1996), Black Friday (2004), Water (2005), Firaaq (2008), Gandu (2010) and Unfreedom (2015), to name a few have met the same fate and have been censored for their use of expletives, extremism and erotica- a trifecta that repels the Indian sensibilities, have led to a ban all of these films.

 

Before the advent of social media, directors such as Raj Kapoor have used women’s sensuality as a means of artistic expression and didn’t have to face flak for it. For instance when Mandakini, stood under the waterfall in a sheer white saree in Ram Teri Ganga Maili, or the time when a young Deepa Sahi posed naked in Maya Memsaab, or when Zeenat Amaan swayed seductively in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, they were certainly ahead of their time. In another thought provoking statement, Rajshri emphasises that as Indians we are bound to make a mountain out of a molehill when it comes to topics such as nudity.  “I want to get past the conversation of nudity. It’s normal. People must see me as I am, for my work. These things should not bother us. We must see the content and the creative aspect of it. When you saw me, were you titillated? She questions.

 

Sonal Raut in The XposéSonal Raut in The Xposé

Actress Sonali Raut, tried to do a la Zenat Aman in her debut film Expose (2014) but the censor board eventually cut the scene. She expresses her views on why the censor might have had to make that call, “To simply put it, TV is for the masses, the big screen is for the masses, on the other hand on the web you have a choice to watch it alone, there is no shame in watching explicit content there.” She quips. Ask her if she would drop the top for the big screen once again and she quickly replies, “I did it then as a debutant because I had nothing to lose, but now I will think twice before taking such a step mainly because I don’t want to get typecast. But yes, if my role absolutely demands it, I will give it a thought” says the actress.         

 

Ketan Mehta’s 2014 film, Rang Rasiya was mired in controversy for its nude scenes. But Censor Board’s objection with certain bold scenes that involved paint and nudity between artist Raja Ravi Varma and his muse delayed its release. Nevertheless, actress Nandana Sen who plays leading lady in the film was lauded for going al natural in the film,  “My decision to play this fearless yet fragile character was as much an artistic choice as it was a political one. I have never regretted it, not only because of the immense appreciation this character has gathered across the world, but also because the film focuses on freedom of expression, a topic of increasing global urgency. I would never wish to censor myself in a film that criticizes censorship,” says Nandana.

 

Pinky Haryani, an actress and the youngest member of the Central Board of Film Certification defends the board that is often misunderstood for posing as the vanguards of India’s morality, she says, “We don’t make the rules. As members of the CBFC, we are basically given guidelines by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast in Delhi. We must understand that we are a multi cultural nation. While it’s very easy to say European countries are allowed these liberties, we must also look at the kind of education there is in Europe as compared to that of India. Look at the education we have in our tier two and tier three cities. In my opinion it’s still not a part of the Indian culture to openly discuss sex, or the way one is supposed to treat a woman. That’s the role CBFC has to play in this context. We have a role to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the nation; and unfortunately adopt a conservative approach when it comes to nudity, violence, drug abuse, and disrespect to women,” she clears.

 

Ask her if she would drop the top for the big screen once again and she quickly replies, “I did it then as a debutant because I had nothing to lose, but now I will think twice before taking such a step mainly because I don’t want to get typecast. But yes, if my role absolutely demands it, I will give it a thought” says the actress.

The Ketan Mehta film, Rang Rasiya (2014) was mired in controversy for its nude scenes. Clothes were perceived as superfluous in the intimacy being portrayed between artist Raja Ravi Varma and his muse. Nevertheless, actress Nandana Sen who plays leading lady in the film was lauded for gong al natural in the film,  “My decision to play this fearless yet fragile character was as much an artistic choice as it was a political one. I have never regretted it, not only because of the immense appreciation this character has gathered across the world, but also because the film focuses on freedom of expression, a topic of increasing global urgency. I would never wish to censor myself in a film that criticizes censorship,” says Nandana.

 

Pinky Haryani, an actress and the youngest member of the Central Board of Film Certification defends the board that is often misunderstood for posing as the vanguards of India’s morality, she says, “We don’t make the rules.  As members of the CBFC we are basically given guidelines by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast in Delhi. We must understand that we are a multi cultural nation. While it’s very easy to say European countries are allowed these liberties, we must also look at the kind of education there is in Europe as compared to that of India. Look at the education we have in our tier two and tier three cities. In my opinion it’s still not a part of the Indian culture to openly discuss sex, or the way one is supposed to treat a woman.”

 

“Bearing all of this in mind and knowing that these films are being seen in tier two and tier three cities where people are not that broad minded or where they might not be not sensitised to these issues, they might misinterpret a film that’s being displayed openly in a film festival about nudity; or might just get turned on. That’s the role CBFC has to play in this context. We have a role to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the nation; and unfortunately adopt a conservative approach when its comes to nudity, violence, drug abuse, and disrespect to women,” she clears.

 

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