Reel World Reels Under Pressure-A Special Report

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Not just newspapers but even movies do come under heavy criticism for the content—sometimes from the governments, at times from the public and seldom from religious organisations—that try and seize the independence of those film makers who hold mirror up to the society. Right from yesteryear’s Gokul Shankar to India’s Daughter, countless dramas that have close resemblance to socio-economic issues of the society were shunned.

[pullquote position=”left”]A filmmaker has almost the same freedom as a novelist has when he buys himself some paper–Stanley Kubrick[/pullquote].

The first film that came under the scanner in India was Gokul Shankar, which was released in 1959. The movie apparently projected the behaviour of Naturam Godse. Garam Hawa was a realistic movie that portrayed the lives of a Muslim family during the partition of India.  Indira Gandhi was really upset with Aandhi movie, which was released in 1975 when financial emergency was proclaimed by her. The movie was banned. Janata Government had, however, lift the ban later.

Another movie that came on the similar lines was Kissa Kursi Ka (1977), which was a spoof on Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. The loyalists of Sanjay Gandhi burnt all the master copies of the movie.Hollywood movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) was banned as the government felt that the movie showed Indian culture in bad light.Bandit Queen, released in 1994, was banned by Delhi High Court when Poolam Devi, the subject of the movie, challenged the authenticity of the content.

Hawayein movie that was released in 2003 projected the situation of Sikhs during 1984 massacre. The movie was banned in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love was initially not allowed to exhibit in India due to its sexual content. However, the movie was subject to several cuts and Indian version contained two minutes of nudity.When Fire movie was released in 1996, director Deepa Mehta received critical appreciation. The movie, however, came under severe attack as Hindu fundamentalists attacked theatres and the film was withdrawn.

Released in 2004,Final Solution depicted  the tales of people during 2002 Godhra riots.  The movie was banned by the Censor Board citing provocative content.Water movie faced severe opposition the moment movie went on floors. The Hindu fundamentalists destroyed sets of the movie and Uttar Pradesh Government finally decided to ban the movie shooting in 2000. After so many hiccups, the movie was released in 2007. However, it’s still a question if the movie was released in India theatres.

Recently, the NDA Government banned BBC’s documentary India’s Daughter over alleged negative sentiment. The movie was, however, uploaded to Youtube. While these are some official bans, there’s nothing more than their hero’s image for hysteric fans who choose cinema theatres to vent out their anger when their favourite actors essay characters that receive slaps from soft-gender. Well, it happens in India, Though we have fundamental right—Freedom of Speech and Expression, there are thousand other acts to corner real movies.

That’s probably how producers are now concerned only about money making and directors are making movies that have all commercial elements—heroism, punch dialogues, item songs, action scenes, comedy and a pinch of emotional factor. Nonetheless, the people out there who choose film as a medium to convey a powerful message, will continue to make meaningful movies.

(Phani B)

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