India’s Censored Fight Back
The practice of film censorship is yet another relic in India of a bygone colonial era, the values of which Indians have too readily internalized. Nearly seven decades after independence, it is time for Indians to recognize that the country's democracy is mature enough to do away with censorship altogether.
NEW DELHI – Go to see a movie in India nowadays, and despite the elaborate musical numbers and extravagant sets, you may well find the content pretty bland. The reason is simple: the industry is reeling under severe censorship. This flies in the face of India’s democratic tradition – and it needs to stop.
Censorship has a peculiar status in India. When it comes to news media, print or broadcast, censorship is utterly unacceptable, even unthinkable. Yet all films produced by India’s prolific film industry must be reviewed and approved by the Central Board of Film Certification, which has the authority to demand that scenes be cut or language changed before a film can be screened publicly.
The discrepancy is a matter of elitism. Decades ago, the supposed guardians of India’s public morals decided that those with the education and good taste to read a newspaper can handle its contents, but ordinary people seeking diversion must be protected from the pernicious effects of the “wrong” kinds of entertainment.