CBFC wanted three cuts, and still not happy

CBFC at it again Malayalam film asked to cut out nudity and mute Kazhuveriyude Mone
news Censorship Monday, June 20, 2016 - 18:08

Only we Indians can trip over the same log twice. Despite the Bombay High Court saying that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has no power to censor movies, the CBFC has done it again.

If it was Bollywood movie ‘Udta Punjab’ that bore the brunt of its senseless censorship just a week ago, this time it is Saijo Kannanaikkal’s debut Malayalam movie ‘Kathakali’ that has been refused a certificate by the CBFC.

The movie-makers with the backing of the Film Employees Federation of Kerala (FEFKA) had moved the Kerala High Court in the matter and even staged a protest led by FEFKA general secretary B Unnikrishnan in front of the CBFC regional office at Chitranjali Studio in Thiruvananthapuram on Monday.

Speaking to The News Minute, Saijo says he is bemused by the fact that we have reached a stage where one has to approach the court just to ensure that justice in its basic form is delivered to us.

“Imagine having to approach the court to ensure that creative freedom of expression is left unmuzzled. That is what pains me the most. They want me to cut out an integral shot of the climax. But then if that is taken out, I might as well not have made the movie in the first place,’ Saijo rues.

Kathakali is the movie of a dhobi working near the Bharathapuzha River and the choices he makes in life.

When the movie was first placed before the censor board for certification, Saijo was given to understand that if he incorporates three cuts recommended by the board, the movie could be given a U-certificate.

The three cuts insisted on were muting off a colloquial abuse 'Kazhuveriyude Mone' (roughly translating into a son of a man who was hanged), not showing the naked rear of a character in one scene and changing of a mid-shot to that of a long shot of the climactic scene which depicts the protagonist shedding his Kathakali costume and walking off.

After duly incorporating the same, when the film once again came before the regional censor board for its approval, the latter insisted that all ‘nude’ shots be taken off, failing which the movie would not be issued a certificate.

Saijo elaborates, “The shedding of the Kathakali costume is symbolic in nature. Kathakali with its accoutrements symbolizes society and its rigid norms. The life experiences that the protagonist has make him want to cut off all ties with this callous social milieu which is what the nudity reflects. Hacking the scene will play havoc with the aesthetics of the entire movie per se.”

He adds that since he did not have the wherewithal to pursue the matter in court, he had posted his quandary on social media. This in turn caught the attention of FEFKA which then sought to take up the battle on his behalf and filed a petition against the censor board in the Kerala High Court.

Saijo’s case is being argued by well-known political and social commentator and lawyer Dr. Sebastian Paul.

“Nudity is a problem as far as CBFC is concerned when there is a sexual undertone. But the two instances of nudity (that too partial nudity) is essential to the movie,” says Sebastian Paul.

The court has issued notices to both the Centre and the CBFC on June 15 in this regard. Since the matter is subjudice, the CBFC regional head A Pratibha reportedly refused to comment on the same.

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