Censor board bends rules for bigwigs’ omnibus

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It looks like there are different guidelines for filmmakers like Aditya Chopra and Shyam Benegal, as compared with the rest of the film fraternity. A collection of short films entitled Shor Se Shuruaat featuring 7 short films by protégées of big names like Shyam Benegal, Zoya Akhtar, Imtiaz Ali, Homi Adjania and Nagesh Kukunoor has apparently been allowed to break rules to be certified with a ‘UA’ in spite of explicit sexual content in one of the stories.

What’s more, the omnibus has 6 stories in Hindi and 1 story in the English language. The entire omnibus is certified with a ‘UA’ when the rules clearly state that films in different languages must be certified separately.

When contacted the CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani admitted that rules were bent for the 7 short-films comprising Shor Se Shuruaat. “But this was because we believe the film brings forth new talented directors trained by eminent filmmakers like Shyam Benegalji and Ms Mira Nair. Each film is socially relevant. So we have allowed a certain amount of extra creative leverage to Shor Se Shuruaat. The last short-film Mia I Am in the omnibus directed by Satish Raj Kessrireddi is in English and should’ve been certified separately as the other 6 stories are in Hindi. However we allowed the English film to be certified along with the other Hindi short-films for the sake of creative convenience. In fact the English film does not even deserve a ‘UA’ but an ‘A’ certification.”

Nihalani reveals that in spite of bending the guidelines the makers of Shor Se Shuruaat have been crying foul against the censor board. “We cut only one word ‘chutiya’ from the 6 short stories in Hindi. The word was part of Atul Kulkarni’s dialogues. The last story Mia I Am in English was strongly sexual with dialogues like ‘Suck me’ and ‘mother-fu..’ – We’ve never allowed the ‘mf’ expletive in any film– which we had to remove because it was going with the other stories that clearly deserved a ‘UA’. And yet we are being accused of double standards by people associated with this project. Now when the film is released we will be asked why we allowed the explicit content in the last story. Clearly the censor board is in a no-win situation.”

– By Subhash K. Jha