South Asia Censorship News

 2018: Jan-March

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  India tops the list of countries censoring films'...

Freemuse first annual State of Artistic Freedom report


Link Here 29th March 2018
the state of artistic freedom A survey by Freemuse.org, an independent organisation advocating and defending artistic freedom, also mentions that India accounts for 1/3 of all documented cases of persecution and threats aimed at filmmakers and actors. The report reveals:

67% of all documented censorship cases in India were against films and filmmakers. Reported censorship violations included 55% by government authorities , eg CBFC, and 36% by religiouse and caste groups.

In 2017, Bollywood filmmakers found themselves in major scuffles with censors and far-right caste groups. Throughout the year, they were confronted by frequent hurdles put in their way by censors demanding cuts to films deemed indecent or likely to offend religious or ethnic sentiments. These challenges came amidst threats, and sometimes attacks by caste groups.

The challenge of being creative in a multi-religious and culturally sensitive society was profound for Indian filmmakers in 2017. Claims of preserving cultural values and preventing religious uprisings were used excessively by censors to justify violation of artistic freedom. This seemingly encouraged far right caste groups to take action towards stalling film releases, threatening and attacking filmmakers in the course of the year.

Although some censored films were eventuallycleared for screening, the sector's creativity was largely undermined.

 

  Cheating people of their right to free speech...

Bangladesh tried and failed to shutdown Facebook to prevent cheating in school exams


Link Here 24th February 2018  full story: Internet Censorship in Bangladesh...Internet censors to track down supposed blasphemy

Facebook logoNow is the season of school final exams in Bangladesh and the government is trying hard to cope with the issue of exam questions leaking online.

Leaking exam questions have become a regular phenomenon in public examinations like Junior School Certificate (JSC), Senior School Certificate (SSC) and Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC), medical college and university admission tests, and state-owned bank recruitment exams over the last several years in Bangladesh.

Mostly using Facebook and WhatsApp, people sell exam questions ahead of the nationwide examinations. A few hours before the exam, the questions are often given away for free. The offenders in most of these cases have not been identified. These leaks have cast a shadow over the quality of exams and the process of assessing students.

In January, the Education Minister hinted that Facebook would be shut down during the exams to prevent these leaks.

On February 11, 2018, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission instructed all internet service providers in Bangladesh to shut off mobile internet and reduce broadband speeds to 25 kbps from 8:00am-10:30am on exam days throughout the remainder of February.

But on February 12, 2018 morning, within an hour from the start of the internet shutdown, the government backtracked and ordered ISPs to ensure uninterrupted internet service. It took some hours for the ISPs to implement the new order and things were normal again. The authorities have instead imposed a mobile phone ban near the exam halls.

Netizens criticized the move, using sarcasm and satire to express their dissatisfaction and protest the rash and whimsical decision.

For now, with demand for exam questions increasing, the leaks continue. How the government will choose to combat the problem, short of an internet shutdown, remains to be seen.

 

  Super Censorman...

Black Panther has been cut for cinema release in India over reference to a monkey god named Hanuman


Link Here 23rd February 2018
Poster Black Panther 2018 Ryan Coogler Black Panther is a 2018 USA action Sci-Fi adventure by Ryan Coogler.
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Michael B Jordan and Lupita Nyong'o. BBFC link IMDb

After the events of Captain America: Civil War, King T'Challa returns home to the reclusive, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to serve as his country's new leader. However, T'Challa soon finds that he is challenged for the throne from factions within his own country. When two foes conspire to destroy Wakanda, the hero known as Black Panther must team up with C.I.A. agent Everett K. Ross and members of the Dora Milaje, Wakandan special forces, to prevent Wakanda from being dragged into a world war.

In India the film was pre-cut for a CBFC U/A rating (children allowed if accompanied) for 2018 cinema release

At the domestic screening of the film, fans were quite enraged that the word 'Hanuman' was muted from the film. The Jabari tribe in the film, that enters the first death challenge, worships an ape god called Hanuman sharing a name with an Indian monkey god as per the comic books. But this reference was omitted from the screening.

While many felt that this was CBFC's doing, our sources have told us that it is not CBFC who muted the word Hanuman but it's the distributors of the movie in India who decided to do this.

 

  Period drama...

Pakistan's film censors ban the Indian film Pad Man


Link Here 11th February 2018
pad ,manPad Man is a 2018 India comedy biography by R Balki.
Starring Akshay Kumar, Radhika Apte and Sonam Kapoor. BBFC link IMDb

Biography on Tamil Nadu activist Arunachalam Muruganantham, whose mission was to provide sanitary napkin's to poor women of rural areas. Who would use rag cloths or leaves during periods where use of sanitary napkins was rare. After he did not get fruitful results from his family and a medical college he approached, he decided to try it himself by making a uterus out of football bladder and filling goat's blood in it. He would roam around the whole day with the bladder, the aim was to check the absorption rate of the sanitary napkins made by him.

Akshay Kumar's much-awaited film on menstrual hygiene, Pad Man, released across the world on Friday. centres around menstruation and hygiene has been banned from being released in Pakistan.

Members of the Punjab Film Censor Board have refused even to watch the film and have claimed that taboo subject films will not be allowed screening in cinemas.

Similarly, the Federal Censor Board also announced a ban on Padman in all cinemas across the country.

Film distributors had displayed posters on PadMan across cinemas but after this latest development, all posters were removed.

 

 Updated: Priority issues...

Pakistan's Islamabad High Court directs that the government sets up a committee of telecoms and TV censors to ban pornography


Link Here 29th January 2018
Lahore High CourtThe Islamabad High Court has ordered the constitution of a high-level committee to stop proliferation of pornography in the country.

Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, hearing a petition for the implementation of the court judgment against blasphemous material on social media case, also directed the federal government to appoint Pakistan Telecom Authority (PTA) chairman and member (finance) within a fortnight.

In his three-page judgment, Justice Siddiqui said, Let a committee, consisting of interior, information technology, religious affairs and information and broadcasting secretaries, with the special participation of Pemra and PTA chairmen, and headed by the cabinet division secretary, be constituted. He added:

The committee shall examine the issue of pornography , its availability through different devices to identity the areas and suggest immediate, short-term and long-term measures to be taken to stop this menace against the society.

The committee shall also examine the movies coming from foreign countries and take concrete steps to ban them if they are found against any law of Pakistan, moral values, Islamic teachings and Pakistani culture.

Regarding TV shows, Justice Siddiqui observed:

There are serious complaints that different channels through these shows are involved in such activities as are against the decency, morality, values of Islam and cultural heritage of Pakistan.

He directed the Pemra to submit a report in this regard and take immediate steps to prevent telecast of such contents, and if any channel failed to follow the instructions, penal action should be taken against it.

Update: Pakistan blames Hollywood for its own terrorism problem

29th January 2018. See  article from breitbart.com

The court case also hosted a bit of debate blaming Hollywood for the violence and terrorism that is omnipresent in Pakistan.

The US Pentagon has long accused Pakistan of serving as a sanctuary for terrorists who are killing and injuring American troops in neighboring Afghanistan, a charge that Islamabad denies. And now the  U.S. President Donald Trump has ramped up pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting terrorists, suspending up to $1.9 billion in aid until Islamabad takes decisive action against the groups.

Pakistan denies the US accusations and this was touched on in the curt case. Justice Siddiqui declared:

The biggest hub of pornography and terrorism is Hollywood and Los Angeles. Hollywood plays a central role in inciting of crimes, and then our madrassas (seminaries) are blamed.

All video games for children are based on crimes. How planes are hijacked and how to commit murders--everything is taught comprehensively.

 

 Updated: Opening show...

Padmavat is cleared for national release by India's Supreme Court and by the BBFC


Link Here 27th January 2018  full story: Padmavati...Indian movie causes trouble in India, Pakistan and the UK
padmavatPadmavat is a 2017 India historical romance by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. BBFC link IMDb

Rani Padmavati (aka Padmini) is said to be one of the most beautiful women to ever exist. This real life story is epitome of Love and sacrifice between Rajput Queen Padmavati and Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. Their perfect life took unfortunate turn when Allauddin Khilji's lustful eyes gazed upon Queen Padmavati. Alauddin Khilji is known as one of the most brutal rulers of the Khilji dynasty, who ascended the throne by killing his father-in-law, his brother-in-laws and their uncles. He was known for attacking states, only for their land and women. And, the motive behind the attack on Mewar was none other than royal Rani Padmavati. Chittorgarh fort, today, stands as an epitome of the true Rajputana spirit, loyalty, fidelity and bravery and a symbol of women power.

Court cases abound whenever there's a controversy about an Indian that should be banned or not banned. There are often several people who are willing to spend their cash on advocating for banning or not banning, often in different courts in different states.

However, in the case of Padmavat these cases have rapidly moved to India's Supreme Court which has just passed two judgements about the film. Firstly the Court found that individual states should not be able to overrode the national film censor and so bans in the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have been overturned.

india supreme courtThe film's producers had approached the Supreme Court to challenge the states' ban, and Chief Justice Dipak Misra concurred with the producers. He stated:

Cinemas are an inseparable part of right to free speech and expression. States... cannot issue notifications prohibiting the screening of a film.

The second judgement refused the case made by an advocate who wanted the court to overturn the CBFC decision and ban the film. The same judge refused to entertain a plea to cancel the Censor Board certificate given to the movie Padmaavat. Advocate M.L. Sharma had contended that exhibiting the movie in certain States would be an open invitation for violence.

And of course that violence could yet overrule the Supreme Court and force cinemas to not show the film.

Cut version resubmitted to the BBFC

20th January 2018. See article from bbfc.co.uk

BBFC logo UK: A version cut by the Indian film censors was passed 12A for moderate violence, injury detail without BBFC cuts for:

  • 2018 cinema release

The film is 5s shorter than the uncut version submitted a few weeks earlier. There is no change to the rating or consumer advice.

There were 5 CBFC cuts adding up to 5s to downplay the historical accuracy of the film:

  • The title was changed from Padmavati, an historical character, to the fictional name Padmavat.
  • Disclaimers were added with one regarding not glorifying the practice of Sati, and another noting that the film is fictional.
  • There were cuts to the Ghoomar song to 'befit' the character portrayed.

Update: 125 cinemas decide not to screen the movie

21st January 2018. See  article from dailypioneer.com

Even after the Supreme Court asking four States including Gujarat to allow screening of controversial Hindi movie Padmaavat, nearly 125 multiplexes across Gujarat will not show the movie which is set to release on the eve of Republic Day.

Gujarat Multiplex Owners Association, the apex body of multiplexes in the state has voluntarily decided not to show the movie. Core committee member of the association Rakesh Patel said that multiplex owners in Gujarat didn't want to take any risk as there was no guarantee pertaining to safety of the properties.

Update: Inevitably banned by violent religious mobs

23rd January 2018. See  article from bbc.com

Protesters in India's Gujarat have blocked roads and caused local bus services to be suspended, after the Supreme Court cleared the release of controversial Bollywood film Padmavat.

Extremist Hindu groups torched buses and vandalised a theatre in the western state of Gujarat on Sunday.

Despite the court ruling and tightened security, theatre owners in the state have decided against screening the film as they fear further violence.

Update: Worldwide release today

25th January 2018. See  article from metro.co.uk

Padmavat has been released for worldwide screenings, including the UK, today on 25th January. Early reports suggest that cinemas in religious hotspots have decided not to screen the film rather than face violent protest.

Update: Opening show

27th January 2018. See  article from livemint.com

Padmaavat opened in 3,100 screens across the country with an estimated occupancy of 50-55%. It's a very good number given the situation. It clearly shows audiences have come out and supported the film despite all odds, said Atul Mohan, editor of trade magazine Complete Cinema .

Under normal circumstances, a big-ticket film like Padmaavat would have been screened in more than 4,000 screens. States like Rajasthan, Gujarat and parts of Madhya Pradesh and Haryana refrained from screening the period saga. Protests by the Rajput Karni Sena and consequent violence in parts of the country led to several theatres refusing to showcase the movie..

The film was also pirated and streamed online on a Facebook page, showing interest but not revenue for the filmmakers.

Update: Rajputs who saw Padmaavat angry for opposing it earlier

28th January 2018. See  article from citytoday.news

 

 Updated: Amidst continuing violence...

Padmavat finally passed by India's film censor after cuts but remains banned in 3 states


Link Here 17th January 2018  full story: Padmavati...Indian movie causes trouble in India, Pakistan and the UK
padmavatPadmavati is a 2017 India historical romance by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor. IMDb

Rani Padmavati (aka Padmini) is said to be one of the most beautiful women to ever exist. This real life story is epitome of Love and sacrifice between Rajput Queen Padmavati and Rana Rawal Ratan Singh, the Rajput ruler of Mewar. Their perfect life took unfortunate turn when Allauddin Khilji's lustful eyes gazed upon Queen Padmavati. Alauddin Khilji is known as one of the most brutal rulers of the Khilji dynasty, who ascended the throne by killing his father-in-law, his brother-in-laws and their uncles. He was known for attacking states, only for their land and women. And, the motive behind the attack on Mewar was none other than royal Rani Padmavati. Chittorgarh fort, today, stands as an epitome of the true Rajputana spirit, loyalty, fidelity and bravery and a symbol of women power.

The controversial historical movie Padmaavat looks all set to arrive in cinemas on January 25 but members of the Bharatiya Janata Party continue to make threats about its release?

The film has now been passed by the Central Board of Film Certification with a U/A certificate and five cuts. The title has been changed from Padmavati to Padmaavat as per the board's recommendation. Viacom Pictures put out a press release on Saturday confirming a worldwide release in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

However, despite the censor board's green signal, the movie has been banned in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat, all of which are BJP-ruled states. This is entirely legal. State governments have the power to block a film's release even after censor clearance.

There has been no end to protests by the Rajput Karni Sena, the community organisation that has been leading attacks on the movie since early 2017 on the grounds that it distorts history. On Friday, over 130 Rajput Karni Sena members were arrested in Mumbai for staging a protest outside the CBFC headquarters in Mumbai. The organisation has demanded that the certification be revoked until its leaders have watched the movie, and have threatened to burn down cinemas that screen the film.

Update: Banned in a 4th state

17th January 2018. See  article from timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Haryana became the fourth state to ban Padmaavat. Rajasthan, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, which are also ruled by the BJP political party, have already banned the film despite the censor board clearing it. However, the Aditya Nath Yogi government in Uttar Pradesh has decided not to ban the film.

The Haryana cabinet headed by chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar formally approved the proposals made by two ministers Anil Vij and Vipul Goel to ban the film in the state.

 

  On the pain of death the government wouldn't own up to torture...

21 Months of Hell documentary banned in India citing the requirement for impossible to obtain proof


Link Here 2nd January 2018  full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence
21 months of hell21 Months of Hell is a 2017 documentary by Yadu Vijayakrishnan.   IMDb

In June 25th 1975, Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi declared Emergency on the nation which bestowed her the authority to rule by decree, allowing elections to be suspended and civil liberties to be curbed. This resulted in the mass arrests of leaders and activists of opposition who she saw as a threat to her political life. With the introduction of the new law MISA(Maintenance of Internal Security Act), anyone could be arrested without fair trial or evidences. Making use of the political atmosphere and direct orders from the government, the police department exercised their aggression at free will. For the pro-democracy activists, India became a literal hell from the day of declaration of the Emergency until its withdrawal 21 months later. The documentary '21 Months of Hell' explores the ingenious torture method administered by the Police for intimidating political prisoners at that time. With the real life accounts of surviving victims of the torture.

A documentary about India's Emergency , titled 21 Months of Hell , has been banned by Kerala's regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

The Emergency refers to a state of Emergency called in India from 1975-77 when Indira Gandhi was granted almost unlimited powers to quell unrest.

The 78-minute documentary deals with the alleged methods of torture employed by the police against detainees during the Emergency.

The director Yadu Vijayakrishnan told PTI that the documentary mainly features interviews of victims of the Emergency along with the re-enactment of scenes of the alleged tortures methods recreated with actors

Vijayakrishnan said the CBFC asked for proof of the torture methods used by the police during the Emergency. Though there are testimonies of surviving victims and case reports, the Board wanted written government proof of the torture methods of that time. And of course the government is hardy likely to allow public access to records proving its own recourse to torture.

 

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