Censor Board or Bored?

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Finally Kamal Hassan’s magnum opus Vishwaroopam releases today in Tamil Nadu, a couple of weeks behind schedule. Its Hindi version released across the country except for Tamil Nadu on schedule two weeks ago but the raging controversy didn’t help much to pull in the audience.

The question is that despite the film being cleared by the Censor Board, was a ban by the government against the film’s release justifiable and that too on the demands of a few unknown entities? If so, what role has the Censor Board to play in the country if films can be challenged in the court of law post its certification by the Censor Board.

Over the years, there have been films and film makers that have faced the wraths of the government bureaucracy and right wing fundamentalists at that. Kamal Hassan joins the list of those elites who are a part of this list of film makers that have faced hurdle with their films.

However, irrespective of what the outcome of Vishwaroopam will be at the box office, Kamal Hassan has done what no other actor/director before him had been able to do – unite the film industry in its fight against government interference in its working. Vishwaroopam has provided the right fodder for the elitists to have a debate on whether the government’s ban on the film is justifiable or not.

A film is a medium of art and a film maker has the right to showcase his art in the right perspective as long as it doesn’t harm the core secularism of the society. In spite of taking every care not to hurt religious or cultural sentiments of the society, yet film makers are targeted for all the wrong reasons as had been the case with Aamir Khan a few years ago. His film Fanaa  was banned by the Gujarat government on its release. Same had been the case with Parzania and Firaaq.

History repeats itself so often. Years ago, Gulzar’s Aandhi didn’t find favors with the then ruling government and the film found itself banned for a couple of years till a new government came in place.

In most cases, it’s a case of much ado about nothing as Vishwaroopam showcases. However, legally and morally speaking, how can a government ban a film when its chief film scrutinizing body, the Censor Board has passed it? Doesn’t the film certification issued by the Censor Board and solemnly accepted by the film fraternity and the audience at large have any importance attached to it? Or is the Censor Board’s role only limited to passing the ‘Smoking’ tags in films?

The film fraternity needs to seriously sit down and have a dialogue with the government and clarify this matter before cinema as an art gets lost in a muddle of bans and debates. We can’t have Aandhis andVishwaroopams repeatedly. For there are relatively unknown entities who are waiting to have their 5-minute fame by protesting against a film – entities who are either religious fanatics, cultural and moral watchdogs or the government babus!

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