Malayalam blockbuster “Premam” received much criticism for glorifying a student-teacher relationship

Haraamkhor not the first to cross Lakshman Rekha between teachers and students A list for CBFC
Features Cinema Sunday, June 19, 2016 - 19:46

No kissing, no drugs, no swearing.  Sounds like parental advice for angst-ridden teenagers? Except, this friendly fire is coming from India’s censor board, known as the Central Board of Film Certification, that should now perhaps be renamed as the Central Board of Moral Certification.

Now that “Udta Punjab” has finally seen the light of day, the CBFC appears to have trained its guns on another film, “Haraamkhor”, starring Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Shweta Tripathi. Directed by debutant Shlok Sharma, the film explores an affair between a 14-year-old school girl and her tuition teacher in a small town in Gujarat. HuffPost India reported that the Examining Committee of the CBFC had refused to certify the film on the grounds that the “entire theme of the movie is objectionable”.

CBFC had objected to the plot in “Haraamkhor” as “teachers are revered people in society and they can’t be shown having an affair with an underage girl”, said a source to HuffPost India.

But the student-teacher relationship, while unusual in Indian Cinema, isn’t unchartered territory for filmmakers here.

Malayalam blockbuster “Premam” received much criticism, including from within the industry, for glorifying a student-teacher relationship. Actor Nivin Pauly, who plays a college student, falls in love with his professor, played by Sai Pallavi. While veteran director Kamal earned the ire of fans after stating last year that the film misleads the youth, then Kerala DGP TN Senkumar told The News Minute that young teachers in the state were feeling vulnerable after “Premam” released.        

But “Premam” was by no means a trendsetter in Mollywood. Films like “Chamaram” in 1980 by Bharathan and “Mazhayethum Munpe” in 1995 by Kamal, the same director who had objected to “Premam’s” theme, were ahead of their time, exploring the subject of love blossoming between a student and teacher.       

Tamil cinema hasn’t been far behind either. “Lesa Lesa” touched upon the theme in 2003, with actor Trisha’s character falling for her professor, played by Madhavan. Recently, “Irudhi Suttru”, a sports-drama has a budding boxer fall for her coach, who tells her to focus on her punches instead.   

And while the CBFC makes a valid argument in raising objections to a sexual relationship between a minor and an adult, the truth is such protests have been witnessed in the past too. In 2007, filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma’s “Nishabd” ran into trouble with groups like Lok Janshakti Party calling for a ban on the film, saying it was against Indian culture.  “Nishabd” starring Amitabh Bachchan and Jiah Khan portrayed an illicit relationship between a 60-year-old man and an 18-year-old girl. And although the girl in question is an adult in the film, protestors raised objections to the fact that a “grandfather” was romancing a young girl as it was “contradictory to our society”.  And for all the hue and cry that the run-up to the film witnessed, the Censor Board did give “Nishabd” the go-ahead. Indian culture too, managed to scrape by, with its reputation intact. 

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