So when it comes to issues such as censorship, naturally the question asked would be, whether it is the mass medium or the form of art, which is being put to test. This clearly explains the director's freedom and cinema's responsibility to depict the truth, which most often assumes the shape of sexuality as in Bandit Queen, Kamasutra or Fire and sometimes blatant political statements like Padwardhan's War and Peace. Still, censorship or discussions on it relate only to sexuality in this country, and never the inhuman and internecine ideologies or propaganda unleashed on its grounds, and that is the saddest part of it. Vijay Anand's resignation as the Chairman of CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) too points to this fact, that he urged for guidelines which permitted for more abusive language to be depicted on screen as it is 'part of reality' and proposed theatres for X-rated movies. He would have remembered the way political muscles are being flexed to impose the censorship rules and how the puritans are going the Hindutva way even with films.
Films are excellent tools of propaganda in which the potion can cleverly be put as an additive or 'tastemaker'. We have always enjoyed the Donald Duck of the Disney stable which told the American way of life but never acknowledged to it. Cut to the famous Lion King in which the treatment is much more arrogant. The King is depicted as a wise man who is White, and all the hyenas who are portrayed as crooked and insensible bore the gestures of the Black. The Lion King was not censored, for it was beautifully clad in a nice wrapper called "animation film for kids".
Come to films like Narasimham in Malayalam in which the central character depicted by Mohanlal bears all the attributes of a swayam sevak, and all his violent deeds are justified. Al1 the films of the ace actor after Narasimham have him playing the 'upper caste', character who resorts to violence, which is accepted on grounds of so-called 'social responsibility'. The image the swayam sevak builds through a series of such films (it still continues) is imaginable which gives him a licence to take to violence at the drop of a hat. The worst has been Mohanlal’s Ustad which portrays him playing the central character of Parameswaran who is a sober uppercaste businessman·indulging ·n clandestine activities for promoting his business. When the character enters the underworld, he takes on a Muslim identity. In another of the star's entertainer, Chandralekha, released some years back, there was an explicit statement glorifying an upper-caste community and degrading the minorities. Why did censorship rules not apply here? Does this also come under the license to use abusive language as urged by Vijay Anand?
Coming back-to sexuality, it is the female body that is overtly and overly marked as the sexual body. But it is subjected to a different criterion when it is portrayed in a foreign film; the same censors would clear it for screening. It seems that we really lack clear guidelines or it is twisted at the behest of vested interests. The song cholee ke peeche which came as a slap on the face of India's traditional morality, was cleared on the grounds that it was a traditional song sung in Rajasthan.
The structure and rules of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) can be a good lesson for its Indian counterpart. It has traditionally observed a distinction between what it calls ‘manners’ - flexible attitudes on the part of the public towards things such as nudity and obscene language and ‘morals’ - immutable codes of conduct. This conveniently allows it to change its classifications if it judges that public attitudes have changed. The BBFC also makes public consultation in its decision-making, and organises 'road-shows' to both canvas public opinion and to justify its decisions. The Khosla Committee on Film Censorship also had similar views that it is not sexual immorality which should attract the censor's scissors, but how the theme is handled by the producers. The words of Dev Anand who has fought great battles against. Censorship is worth remembering here: ‘What we need is intelligent censorship that will stop irresponsibility. Indeed, and not X theatres.’