• Lindsay Pereira: Pray, who has sex in India?

    Lindsay PereiraMar 04, 2017, 09:07 IST

    A still from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Pic/Film’s official facebook page
    A still from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Pic/Film’s official facebook page

    I am very pleased about the Central Board of Film Certification’s decision to deny certification to the film Lipstick Under My Burkha by Alankrita Shrivastava. It’s ‘lady oriented’, according to the Board, which obviously means that it threatens the men of our country. This sort of threat should not be taken lying down because, if we allow films from a female perspective to be shown on the big screen, women may soon start asking for equal rights. I am glad the Board has nipped this in the bud.

    The Board’s comments also plea­sed me greatly because they pointed out that the film depicted “fantasy about life”. Filmmakers shouldn’t be allowed to focus on fantasy, simply because that is reserved for our politicians alone. Our leaders alone should be allowed to incorporate fantasy into their speeches and party manifestos. Filmmakers should only concern themselves with real life, provided, of course, that their view of real life does not clash with the views of real life shared by the esteemed members of the Board.

    Here’s another massive problem with the film. It contained ‘sex scenes.’ This horrified me. How can women in India think about sex, let alone have it? Everyone knows that Indian women are pure and untainted by the idea of sex. The fact that they can actually depict the sex lives of women on celluloid is beyond ridiculous, simply because women who like sex belong to the realm of fantasy and that has already been recognised as a problem in the previous paragraph.

    I haven’t watched the film, obviously. I can travel to another country and watch it if I feel like, because a lot of other countries populated by literate people simply certify films and then allow people to make up their own minds about whether it is good, bad, tasteful or offensive. Also, intriguingly enough, when people find a few films offensive, they get on with their lives and simply avoid watching those films again. It’s an astonishingly difficult concept for a majority of my countrymen to grasp. Why should we stop watching things that are offensive when we can simply force artistes, writers, filmmakers and painters to stop creating such pieces of art in the first place? Isn’t art meant only for the people? Didn’t the great Soviet leader Joseph Stalin — more relevant to India now than ever before - live and die by that principle? How can we forget about Stalin’s beliefs about art? How can we let artists decide what to create?

    This isn’t the first time our esteemed Board has taken it upon itself to protect us from anything that offends its members. A few years ago, it insisted on filmmaker David Fin­cher editing several scenes before his film The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo could be shown to the rest of us. A couple of love-making scenes were a problem, apparently, along with a rape and torture scene. How could people be shown having sex anyway? I was pretty sure, at the time, that no member of the Board had sullied their lives with lovemaking. They must have stayed pure and untouched all their lives, in order to take on the great task of vetting everything for the rest of us. That some of them had children came as a surprise to me, because I assumed these children were born only after the esteemed Board members had condescended to having sex with someone. But how could that be? Wasn’t sex taboo?

    Maybe filmmakers should get their scripts vetted first, before starting to work on a project. These scripts should be made available in advance to the public well, so anyone who may find anything potentially offensive can point this out at the onset. Maybe we should simply re-release new versions of films that have already been approved, to make things less difficult for filmmakers. Who needs various points of view anyway, when these have already been decided for us beforehand? Why reinvent the wheel? In fact, we should disallow filmmakers and artists to do anything that does not conform to what our esteemed Board thinks is appropriate. It’s what Stalin would have loved, were he to be lucky eno­ugh to be born in our great country.

    One of the reasons given most often by members of the Central Board of Film Certification is that a film offends their sensibilities, or has the power to offend some community’s sensibilities. The only thing the Board does, and has done for decades, is offend our common sense.

    When he isn’t ranting about all things Mumbai, Lindsay Pereira can be almost sweet. He tweets @lindsaypereira. Send your feedback to mailbag@mid-day.com

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