After two years, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has finally agreed to certify the Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes, directed by US-based filmmaker Jayan Cherian.
Ever since Jayan Cherian first approached the board for certification in 2015, the CBFC has been consistently denying him the certificate, citing that the film was insulting and humiliating Hindu religion and Hindu gods.
Jayan had approached the Kerala High Court last year and the court had directed the board to certify the film.
Following this, in a letter dated September 19, Dr Prathibha A, the Regional Officer of CBFC, informed the filmmaker that the board was willing to certify the film under some conditions.
According to the one-page letter, the film was reviewed by a panel of board members as per the direction of the Kerala High Court and the majority of the board members were of the view that the film was not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition.
But the film was considered suitable for public exhibition restricted to Adults, the letter said. However, the board has asked the filmmaker to make four cuts and one modification for the film to be certified.
The board has directed Jayan Cherian to delete visuals showing photos of RSS founder Golwalkar and its ideologue Hedgewar and also remove references to the RSS wherever it occurs.
Apart from these cuts, the board wants the visuals of saffron flags, visuals of the character Sia masturbating, and "objectionable and disrespectful" paintings depicting Lord Hanuman carrying books in his hand, removed from the film.
Ironically, Ka Bodyscapes, in Jayan's own words, "portrays through its protagonists the attitude of society towards homosexuality and feminism. The film revolves around the experiences of the three protagonists in the film, Haris, a gay free-spirited painter, his love interest, Vishnu, a Hanuman bakth from a conservative Hindu right-wing family and Sia a feminist from a conservative Muslim family. The film touches upon the aggression shown by right-wing activists towards artists and writers."
Although happy that his film is finally getting certified after a prolonged legal battle, Jayan said that the film has been subjected to a "political censorship."
"This is the current state of free speech in India. The political censorship is normalised, it is an unabashed gesture from the current government," he said.