It has been around 50 years since Malayalis watched the first film in their language which got released with the ‘Adults Only’ certification alias A-certificate. Later, several films came out with the same certification and eventually, a big share of the blockbusters of 1970s and 80s hit the screens were with the A certificate. The main reason behind such a certification was the sexual content and brutal scenes in the films, but majority of those films in the last two decades were those with out-and-out erotic content.
With controversies marring certification of movies, the Central Board of Film Certification alias the censor board is going through a bad phase. After rows in connection with the censoring of Dulquer Salmaan-starrer Kammattipadam and Oscar Saijo-directed Kathakali, yet another Malayalam film has found itself between the unkind scissors of censor board.
Debutant Jeyen Raj-directed Mud Maza, which depicts the lives of a group of children, faced issues when it reached the censor board’s table.
According to the director, the censor board has asked him to cut away a shot because the kids appeared on screen without clothes. “Mud Maza is my first film and it was after I worked as an assistant with many senior directors for around 15 years that I ventured into doing my own film. The film is set against the backdrop of a village and goes through the lives of a group of kids. It was around one month back that we approached the board for the censoring of this film. After the screening, the board pointed out a shot in which the child actors appear nude. Though they have no dress, they were covering their private parts with their hands. Their demand was to drop the shot from the movie and the posters,” says the director.
He continues, “Though I argued for around one hour, they were adamant as they stuck on the term ‘nudity’. When I pointed out the scene in Aamir Khan’s PK in which he appeared nude with a radio to cover his private part, they objected to my point. They said they won’t issue a censor certificate if I won’t edit the shot. As the releasing date was nearing, I was forced to follow their instruction. That was how I grabbed a U-certificate for my film. Unfortunately, we could not release the film on that particular date owing to some other reasons,” he says.
“I know it is not an isolated issue as I am well aware of the controversies surrounding the censor board. But I am afraid children’s films are also going through a tough time as the directors are not free to express their creativity,” he says.
Screenwriter-director Renji Panicker says that it is time to change the expired policies of the censor board. “They are acting according to their will. They are taking decisions based on self-made guidelines. It is high time they are stopped,” he says.
Renji says that if they can’t see a children’s film for what it is and have a problem with nudity of kids, they should be put for public trial. “If they go like this, in future they would suggest the filmmaker to delete the shot of Lord Guruvayoorppan, who appears wearing a loincloth.”
Renji says that he is not against any of the members in the board. “There may be many intelligent people in the board. My objection is towards the decisions and the system of the censor board.”
Quizzed about this, Kerala Film Producers’ Association president G. Suresh Kumar says, “I am not much aware about this particular issue. So I cannot comment much about it. In the meantime, it is a fact that censoring of Malayalam cinema is going through a tough phase. Apart from the shortage of the members, the board does not have enough staff. When CBFC head Pahlaj Nihalani came to Kerala in connection with the Premam censor copy issue, he had promised us that the issues will be solved soon. It has been around one year since his visit; nothing has changed. Now, there is a news about revamping the board and we hope all issues will be solved.”...