The Week That Was:

From: Vartaa Editorial Team on Jun 12, 2016

Censorship raises a storm again

The Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and its chief Pahlaj Nihlani were in the center of a controversy again this past week after the Board demanded several cuts to the upcoming movie Udtaa Punjab. The movie is based on the backdrop of the drug menace in the Punjab and it appears that this theme was what sparked the CBFC's ire, so much so that one of the suggested cuts was removing the word Punjab from the title itself. Predictably, the film's producers were up in protest and it did not take long for politicians to step into the fray, given that Punjab goes to the polls next year. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress both of whom are looking to topple the Akali Dal in the state were quick to support the movie. The Akalis questioned the motives of the AAP. The Bombay High Court meanwhile, hearing petition on this matter, came down harshly on the CBFC and its heavy handedness. It appears that the CBFC and Mr.Nihlani have backed off for now and agreed to release the movie with an A certification.

BJP's UP plans

UP is the big battleground state for next year and the BJP is leaving no stone unturned to grab a majority in the state assembly. The party's national executive is being held in Allahabad this week and it aims to devise a strategy to topple the SP and BSP in the state. PM Modi is also visiting the national executive and some reports suggest that Home Minister Rajnath Singh has been offered the CM's candidacy for the upcoming elections. It remains to be seen though as to who the party eventually appoints as face for the CM's post.

India's NSG plans

In the backdrop of PM Modi's recent US visit, India's bid for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, an international group of nations that controls commerce of atomic material, came up for discussion at the group's plenary in Vienna. Despite the US pushing for India's membership and some of the other countries warming up to India's bid, opposition from China continued to throttle India's ambitions. The Chinese, in their effort to contain the growing Indo-US entente, have indicated that more deliberations are needed for deciding whether nations like India which have not signed the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) can be admitted into the NSG. India's bid will now be taken up again in the next plenary of the group in Seoul.

Opinions you must read:

  • The Udta Punjab controversy shone the light again on the drug menace in the state. The Indian Express recounts here the efforts of the state administration in battling the drug machine while Firstpost argues that not talking about the problem will only make it worse.
  • Surjit Bhalla argues in the Indian Express that the debate on whether RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan should get a second term or not should be focused purely on his performance and not on other extraneous factors.

Chart of the Week

With the Udta Punjab censorship issue unfolding last week, we decided to take a look at the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) India and find out it's history in recommending cuts, refusals of certificates and total certificates each year. This week's chart takes a look at these 3 metrics in different sub-charts. The data has been obtained from CBFC website. Each year is counted from April to March of next year. The data for 2015 hasnt been published yet, so keep in mind we are really looking at pre-Pahlaj Nihalani era.

The bottom graph is the total number of certificates issued by CBFC in a year which ranges from 15-18k per year, where 2007 had the highest certificates. The other sub-graphs on top of this are number of Indian and Foreign films refused a certificate by the CBFC each year. Notable films denied a certificate during this period are Fifty Shades of Grey, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Blue Jasmine alongwith regional films like Master Eke Master(Marathi), Maadosha(Kannada), Back to Honeymoon(Hindi), Paribhavam(Malyalam), Itumbu(Tamil) among others. Interestingly number of films refused certificates has increased considerably since 2011, even though number of films certified hasnt increased considerably.

At the top is excisions or cuts in films by CBFC in minutes for each year. It should be noted that since 2012, the CBFC categorizes Celluloid films differently than Digital films and were also recorded differently. See more here. We have consolidated the Celluloid film length in meters to minutes (assuming 35mm film) for a consistent measure. So we have a a sub-graph with the total number of cuts made by CBFC each year. Here too we can note that the number of cuts have increased especially in 2014. Both Bollywood and Hollywood movies have suffered major cuts every now and then with inconsistent standards for excisions by CBFC.