Is it justified for the government to ban movies/documentaries?

1,412 Views Updated: 22 Feb 2018
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Is it justified for the government to ban movies/documentaries?

There is defined censorship, and there is irrational censorship. The battle between certification and censorship in India has been an ongoing one. Braver and bolder films don't necessarily see the light of the day. 

Some say censorship in India is based on an age-old idea that citizens are not mature and that subjects of such nature tend to influence the society. The Indian government hasn't entirely managed to dealing with the situation by appointing commissions to review the process of censorship. 

In 2013, the Mukul Mudgal Committee Report was found inadequate and faded with time. In 2016, Shyam Benegal Committee was formed to review the processes involved. Given the fact that eminent film personalities were on board, there was hope that the issues would be dealt with the seriousness it deserved.

Overall summary of the report suggested that henceforth the focus will be on certification and not censorship; that the numbers of members of the CBFC will be reduced from 25 to 9 and that the categories of certification will be increased by two — one for minors and one for adults.

In perspective, the reduction in membership and the increase in categories has hardly done anything to curb the censorious attitude of the CBFC.

In essence, the CBFC will no longer have the power to suggest cuts. Unfortunately, what it gives it away is the fact that CBFC holds the right to refuse certification to a film which violates section 5B(1) of the Act, it states: “A film shall not be certified for public exhibition if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence.”

So now, even if a minor scene falls under section 5(B)1, CBFC holds the right to refuse certification to a film.

Even though we pride ourselves in calling India the largest democracy - is India offering democracy and freedom or is it an illusion? Here's a look at some of the acclaimed movies/documentaries that were banned in India:

Indian Movies

1994 - Bandit Queen 

Banned for: Abusive language, nudity, and explicit sexual content 

1996 - Fire 

Banned for: Explicit homosexuality 

1996 - Kama Sutra - A Tale Of Love 

Banned for: Erotic scenes that contained heterosexual as well as homosexual elements 

2003 - The Pink Mirror 

Banned for: Transsexuality 

2004 - Black Friday 

Banned for: Sensitivity of the political situation showcase 

2004 - Hava Aney Dey 

Banned for: Showcasing a war in Pakistan, with the story of two brothers fighting for Kashmir 

2005 - Water 

Banned for: Showcasing dark insights on the life of the Indian widow based on controversial issues like ostracism and misogyny 

2015 - Unfreedom 

Banned for: Lesbian love story entangled within an angle showcasing Islamic terrorism 

2015 - Mohalla Assi 

Banned for: Showcasing commercialisation of the pilgrimage city - Varanasi 

International Movies

1984 - Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Banned for: Depicting Hinduism, Indian culture, and traditions in a negative light

2006 - The Da Vinci Code

Banned for: Showcasing perceived anti-Christian message

2011 - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Banned for: Adult scenes of rape and torture

2013 - Blue Jasmine

Banned for: Smoking scenes not tagged with anti-tobacco adverts

2015 - 50 Shades of Grey

Banned for: Explicit sex scenes

2015 - Magic Mike XXL

Banned for: Showcasing male stripping

2016 - Dirty Grandpa

Banned for: Obscene showcase of a 70-year-old man


1975 - Sikkim

Banned for: Showcasing sovereignty of Sikkim

2004 - Final Solution

Banned for: Violence showcasing 2002 Gujarat pogrom in which both Hindu and Muslims are targeted in the state of Gujarat by political extremists

2009 - Had Anhad: Journeys with Ram And Kabir

Banned for: Feared portrayal of superstition, obscurantism, invoke contempt for communities or evoke Hindu-Muslim divisiveness

2010 - Inshallah, Football

Banned for: Showcasing insurgencies and militancy in the Kashmir Valley

2014 - En Dino Muzaffarnagar

Banned for: Showcasing investigative documentary on the 2013 Muzaffarnagar Riots

2014 - No Fire Zone In the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka

Banned for: Showcasing investigative content about the final weeks of the Sri Lankan Civil War

2015 - India's Daughter

Banned for: Showcasing gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old medical student in 2012 and projecting India in bad light

Last but not the least - even though the censors try to control the content, they won't be able to monitor public culture and media space in the age of digital technology. Can it?

Should we continue to persist with their censorious ways? Please share your opinions in the comments section below.