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South Asia Censorship News

2010: April-June

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26th June   

Pouring Cold Water on a Nepalese Struggle...

Indian film censors ban Flames of the Snow
Link Here
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

The Indian Censor Board has refused public screening of Flames of the Snow , a documentary on Nepal stating the film elucidates about Maoist movement in Nepal and their ideology.

The censors cited the recent Maoist violence in some parts of India, said the producer of the film, Anand Swaroop Verma.

The refusal for screening was a matter of surprise as the film does not have any reference at all to the current Maoist movement in India, said Verma, who is regarded an expert on Nepalese affairs.

The film highlights struggle of Nepalese against the monarchy, anarchic reign of Ranas and burial of kingship in the year 2008 when Nepal was declared a republic.

I am submitting the film to revising committee of the Board, said producer Verma.


20th June   

Naked Hype...

Indian censors either cut or blur even naked backs but still the publicists talk about nudity
Link Here

Pravesh Bhardawaj hypes his new movie, Mr Singh & Mrs Mehta, by revealing that his wife objected the amount of sex.

The director also revealed that British Asian actress Aruna Shields gets naked in the film, but doesn't mention that the films viewers won't see this.

The film has been awarded an Adult certificate by the Indian censor board.

There is one particular love-making sequence to which my wife Shruti [Nagar, who works with Rajshri Productions] reacted very strongly. She was very upset about the subject matter itself. There is a sequence in the film where Neera (Shields) undresses and her clothes come off one by one.

[Shields] is naked but had to blur it out wherever her derriere got exposed. A couple of censor members who were divided in their opinion wanted to go back on their decision and cut it out. But I think they realised that the psychological impact was not diluted. We agreed on blurring the butt.

He added: Neera is naked in the entire painting sequence. Certain shots where her back is visible have been blurred but nothing had to be deleted from the film. The idea is not to provoke but to make it acceptable in our minds without making her a slut in the film.


19th June   

Update: Pakistan Starts a Hate Facebook Group...

Seeking the prosecution of Facebook founder over supposedly blasphemous Mohammed cartoons
Link Here
Full story: Mohammed Cartoons...Cartoons outrage the muslim world

Following publication of what Pakistan's government and religious leaders regard as blasphemous images on the Internet, the authorities successfully shut down Facebook access throughout the country. They are now moving to do the same with such sites as YouTube and Google. Last month more than 10,000 sites were banned on pretext of blasphemy.

On May 31st a High Court judge, Justice Ijaz Ahmad Chaudhry, ordered the government to take action in respect to alleged blasphemy on Facebook. On June 11th in consequence of this order, the Deputy Attorney General authorised and initiated the first stage of investigation and prosecution of Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.

The Deputy Attorney General on June 11th lodged with police a First Information Report (FIR) against the owner of Facebook .

A FIR is the document that Police register when a case is lodged against anyone. This document then becomes the prime source of evidence and on the basis the legal case will move.

The FIR refers to section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, which reads Use of derogatory remarks, etc., in respect of the Holy Prophet. Whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by visible representation, or by any imputation, innuendo, or insinuation, directly or indirectly, defiles the sacred name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) shall be punished with death, or imprisonment for life, and shall also be liable to fine.

The actual FIR details the charge in respect of an offense under Section 295-C Pakistan Penal Code and punishment under this offense is death penalty or rigorous life imprisonment

The next hearing is scheduled for 12th July 2010. It is highly likely that this prosecution will be initiated in time for the 12th July hearing. At that point arrest papers may be issued and Zuckerberg will become a wanted felon.


15th June   

House Censors...

India seeks censor approval for private showings of documentaries
Link Here

Five decades after the Cinematograph Act (1952) was passed, the government has plans to amend it. But filmmakers expecting a wave of liberalism that will free cinema from the shackles of mindless censorship are in for a rude shock.

The Draft Cinematograph Bill, which has been circulated to elicit public opinion, seeks to put in more checks and elaborate penalties for transgressions than the filmmakers ever imagined.

Besides theatre releases, documentaries which had earlier enjoyed the benefit of private screenings will now be required to get a certification before they are exhibited anywhere. In a sweeping definition, the draft of the act defines place as a house, building or a tent, in short wherever the film is being exhibited. So, if a person makes a film about one's neighbourhood and wishes to screen it for his neighbours in his house or in a neighbourhood auditorium, such a film would come under the purview of the Cinematograph Act.

No wonder then that the CBFC, the body set up by the government to certify films, is called the Censor Board.

Under Clause 18 of the proposed amended act, if a film is exhibited in contravention of the act, any police officer may enter any place where he has reason to believe that such a film has been or is being or is likely to be exhibited, search it and seize the film. You can be arrested if you document local tribal songs or make a short film about what to do if a company (read state-backed corporates) encroaches your ancestral land—there may be that added bonus of being termed a Maoist, if the local cops and vigilantes want to fix you, says filmmaker Rakesh Sharma.


5th June   

Silencing the Opposition...

Bangladesh government closes popular and critical newspaper
Link Here

The Bangladeshi government ordered the closure of the country's third largest national daily newspaper Amar Desh.

In an interview conducted with the acting editor, Mahmudur Rahman, he told Index on Censorship that police officers under government orders had stormed the newspaper's headquarters in Kawaran Bazar, Dhaka.

Many in the opposition Bangladeshi National Party (BNP) — which Amar Desh supports — believe the closure is part of a move by the Awami League government to crack down on press freedom to minimise opposition to government policy.

In recent months, Mahmudur Rahman has written editorials and articles criticising the government, he has documented human rights abuses, extra-judicial killings and maladministration by officials linked to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Rahman told Index: The government has made a fascist stance against freedom of expression. He stressed, We are the third largest national daily and have the second largest internet readership…I have in my journalism exposed the government's record on corruption and human rights abuses extensively, in recent days we have seen a high number of custodial deaths…in other words I have challenged Sheikh Hasina, the current prime minister, on her integrity and challenged the establishment.

Rahman has asked those who work for freedom of expression around the world to publicise the situation in Bangladesh. He said: Support us in the fight to freedom of speech, people should be free to struggle and show their dissent against oppressive measures, that is part of any civil plural democracy .

The Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists and Dhaka Union of Journalists called a protest rally at the National Press Club in protest against the government's action


2nd June   

Update: Dodgy Film Censors...

Indian politicians make for very easily offended film censors
Link Here
Full story: Film Censorship in India...CBFC: Film censors and their cuts

While the Prakash Jha film Rajneeti has generated a lot of political heat for its alleged depiction of Congress President Sonia Gandhi's life, Congress leaders, in their capacity as members of the Censor Board, said they found nothing objectionable about the Nehru-Gandhi family in the film. Thy were objecting to the denigration of the political class across the board.

Congress leaders Tom Vadakkan and Pankaj Sharma were part of the six-member Revising Committee of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for which the film had been screened at Liberty in Mumbai last week. The committee raised many objections and wanted to give an adults only A cerifictate.

Prakash Jha appealed to the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal. In its order dated May 25, the Tribunal overruled the Revising Committee's decision and granted UA certificate to the film, which is scheduled to be released on June 4.

The fcensors of the Revising Committee had the following objections:

  • They wanted to reduce love-making scenes. Prakash Jha told The Sunday Express that he had voluntarily agreed to cut the length of such scenes from 37 seconds to 18 seconds. Later he said that he wood restore the footage for the DVD release.
  • The committee wanted to delete various dialogue used to reference the to represent Muslim/ Hindu communities; the Tribunal did not find these in violation of the guidelines.
  • The Congress members also objected to a scene where an expert is shown speaking on a news channel on how electronic voting machines (EVMs) could be tampered with.
  • Sources said that Congress members had also objected to the suggestive manners of a woman ticket-seeker who comes to meet a politician. Besides, there is another scene involving two men, which, Congress leaders felt, suggested homosexuality.


26th May   

Updated: Flying Kites...

Kites censored in India and the UK
Link Here

Kites is a 2010 India action romance by Anurag Basu

Even before the Hrithik Roshan- Barabara Mori starrer Kites hits the screens, the movie is creating ripples enough about the sensuous and flirty scenes between the two actors, but the international version of the movie seems to have far bolder scenes than the desi version.

The international one has a sizzling liplock between topless Barbara with Hrithik Roshan which is censored to the Indian audience.

Payal Rohatgi, who is known for her bold image says, I think the Indian audience is not mature enough. Men download images to gratify themselves but movies are a different genre. Movies are meant for family watching and a raunchy promo will insure that family audiences don't pull in. So movie makers are also vary,

Meanwhile the BBFC cut the 2010 UK cinema release by 9s for a 12A rating. Company chose to make cuts to reduce violent detail in one scene (a man's ear being cut off and a man being shot with accompanying bloodspray) in order to achieve a 12A classification. An uncut 15 classification was available.

The BBFC further explained their 12A rating:

Kites is a subtitled Hindi language romantic action thriller in which an Indian man and a Mexican woman are on the run across America. The film was classified 12A for moderate violence and threat.

The film contains frequent action sequences and stunts, but the violence is generally not realistic or shown in detail. One scene, however, does involves a more realistic threat to two alleged thieves. They are threatened with a knife and a shooting is implied. This scene is the strongest moment of threat in the film. At 12A'/'12 , the BBFC's Guidelines state that Moderate physical and psychological threat may be permitted, provided disturbing sequence are not frequent or sustained .

The film also contains some mild language including piss and shit .

Update: Kites Remix

Based on article from

The Remix Version was passed 12A without cuts for the 2010 cinema release.

This version is about 30 minutes shorter than the original

Perhaps this is version targets western audiences and the longer version targets Indian speaking audiences. Or vice versa. The film has been noted as one of the first Bollywood films attempting to sell to worldwide audiences.


11th May   

Update: Unauthorised Circulations...

India's Chief Justice calls for internet censorship
Link Here
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

India's Supreme Court Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan has called for placing restrictions on websites circulating pornography and hate material, and justified the Central Government's action in the matter.

Addressing a seminar on Enforcement of Cyber Law here, Balakrishnan said the government initiative was the right step: They (websites) can also be used to circulate offensive content such as pornography, hate speech and defamatory material. In many cases the Intellectual Property rights of artists are violated by unauthorised circulations, he said.

He called upon monitoring agencies and the judiciary not to let gains of the IT (information technology) be an exploiting tool in society: It is the job of the legal system and regulatory agencies to make sure that newer technologies do not become tools of exploitation and harassment


4th May   


Light-hearted play banned for ridiculing Pakistan's religious ideologies
Link Here

A Pakistan stage drama Burqavaganza has been condemned and banned by members of the Senate Standing Committee on Culture. The majority of whom had not even seen the drama.

Ajoka Theatre director Madeeha Gauhar argued that her play is a voice against oppression and intolerance. A humorous, light-hearted depiction of the problems that plague our society.

At first glance, the case in favour of Gauhar would seem strong. Ajoka has been around for 26 years, their productions are widely acclaimed and Burqavaganza has been previously staged in Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi.

However, none of this mattered for the senators because the ministry of culture's additional secretary S M Tahir told them that the play was a conspiracy against Islam and ridiculed religious ideologies . The magic words had been spoken, the spell, cast. PPP's Nawabzada Ghazanfar Ali, MQM's Abdul Khaliq Pirzada and PML's Gulshan Saeed did not watch the play to determine if these allegations were true.

A single letter from the head of the women's wing of the JI who took offence to Burqvanganza was enough to ban Ajoka from performing. This move has now officially been backed by government representatives and a committee is to be formed that will vet all Ajoka Theatre plays before granting permission.


3rd May   

CBFC Online...

Indian film censor launches a new website
Link Here

The Indian film censors at the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) have launched a new website at .

The CBFC introduce themselves:

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is a Statutory body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952.

Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they have been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification.

The Board, consists of non-official members and a Chairman (all of whom are appointed by Central Government) and functions with headquarters at Mumbai. It has nine Regional offices, one each at Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Cuttack and Guwahati. The Regional Offices are assisted in the examination of films by Advisory Panels. The members of the panels are nominated by Central Government by drawing people from different walks of life for a period of 2 years.

At present films are certified under 4 categories:

  • U: Unrestricted Public Exhibition
  • UA: Unrestricted Public Exhibition - but with a word of caution that Parental discretion required for children below 12 years
  • A: Restricted to adults
  • S: Restricted to any special class of persons


2nd May   

Update: War on the Internet...

Afghanistan starts internet blocking
Link Here

Beginning on the 1st of May, Afghanistan will begin filtering content on the internet, according to the Financial Times, noting that a senior official of the Afghani government believes gambling, alcohol, and pornography are against [their] values.

Twenty internet service providers will soon filter websites promoting porn, drugs, alcohol, dating, and weapons, though there's no word as to whether Jihadist-related material will be readily accessible by Afghani citizens.


1st May   

Update: Credibility Banned from Indian Film Censorship...

India mandates adult rating for films with smoking
Link Here
Full story: Adult Rating for Smoking...Anti-smoking lobby for 18 for smoking in films

Sharmila Tagore has been upset by the Indian government's new rules on smoking censorship, according to Mid Day.

The chief of the Censor Board of Film Certification reportedly does not like that all films which show smoking now have to be given an Adults only certificate.

It has been claimed that she thinks each film should be judged individually and that there should be no blanket rule.


26th April   

Embassy Advice...

US winds up Pakistan by suggesting that TV programme linking assassination of Benazir Bhutto to the US should be censored
Link Here

In a statement issued in Pakistan, a US Embassy Spokesperson said the United States rejects the allegations made by Gen (Retd) Hamid Gul that the United States Government was involved in the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto: The United States rejects and other false allegations regularly made by Lt Gen (Retd) Gul about its policies and activities. At the time of Ms Bhutto's murder, the US swiftly and publicly condemned the act and called for an independent investigation.

The Spokesperson advised Pakistani anchors to present a balanced story. The Spokesperson complained despite the fact that Gul gave no proof for his allegations against the United States, his statements were not challenged by any of the TV anchors who invited him to their programmes. TV stations and the anchors have the same obligations as other journalists and they should present the public with balanced views, question unsubstantiated allegations by guests and reject incitement, the spokesman added.

The Pakistanis have reacted harshly to the US advice to the media on how to behave and what to say. In a TV program several prominent personalities confirmed the statements of Benazir Bhutto supporting General Hamid Gul.

The US Embassy would do better to teach the American media ethics and norms rather than putting pressure on Pakistani media, said senior journalists. The commented:

The US Embassy is present in Pakistan to help diplomatic channels, not to tell Pakistani media channels what content they can or cannot show. The US Ambassador is not the Viceroy of Pakistan, and cannot dictate the terms to news anchors or try to put pressure on them. This is contrary to the Geneva Conventions and the norms of diplomacy.

The Pakistani government has less control over Pakistani news channels than the US government has over CNN. The days of official censorship are a relic of the historical past. Even President Musharraf could not control the media of Pakistan. There are 80 channels and hundreds of newspapers and thousands of magazines–the US cannot control every one of them, even though it is trying very hard by bribing GEO with VOA money, and supporting channels like Dunya and Express. Aaaj is the most popular channel and the US cannot seem to control the content of The Nation


26th April   

Update: Bollywood Unbanned...

Bangladesh ends protectionist ban on Indian films
Link Here

Bangladesh has lifted a four-decade ban on Indian films in a bid to boost attendance at cinemas, a government minister said, drawing loud complaints from local actors and directors.

Films produced by India's huge Bollywood entertainment industry have been banned from Bangladesh's cinemas since 1972, a year after the country's independence, to protect the local movie industry.

We lifted the ban to boost the cinema industry, Bangladesh Commerce Minister Faruk Khan told AFP.

Cinema hall owners, who have been clamouring to be allowed to show Indian films, said they expected to start showing Indian films shortly.

The number of cinema theatres has slid to 600 in 2010 from 1,600 in 2000 in the country with Bangladeshi films and soft-porn English-language films shown in movie houses failing to draw viewers.

Pirated DVD copies of Bollywood movies circulate widely in Bangladesh in the absence of them being shown in cinemas and the films are hugely popular.

The lifting of the ban comes amid warming relations between India and Bangladesh after ties worsened between the neighbours when an Islamist-allied government was in power in Dhaka from 2001 to 2006.

But not everyone supports the move. Indian films will completely destroy our film industry and our culture. At least 25,000 people will be jobless, said Masum Parvez Rubel, a leading star and a co-coordinator of a newly created front against Indian films.


12th April   

Class Based Censorship...

India proposes new film ratings
Link Here

The Indian film certification system that divides movies into U , UA and A categories is soon going to witness a sea change, with three new categories to address age and, in certain cases, even the profession of the viewers.

The new film certification system is a crucial part of the draft Cinematograph Bill, 2010, which will be introduced in Parliament for ratification after seeking views from stakeholders, including the public. The new Act will replace the Cinematograph Act of 1952.

While the new system will retain the U (for universal viewing) and A (for viewing by adult or 18+ viewers), the UA system, which was given to films viewable by children if accompanied by adults, will be replaced by more age-specific 12+ and 15+ certification categories. The two new age-specific categories are aimed at giving certification to films on the basis of sensibilities towards language, violence, nudity and subject in various age groups.

The Bill also proposes a completely new S category for films that will be allowed to have restricted exhibition for members of particular profession or class, depending on their nature, content and theme. However, the Bill does not explain what will be these professions or classes of people and what kind of films could fall under this certification category.

The Bill says that children below the age of three years, accompanying their parents or guardians, would be allowed to view all categories of films. This exception has been allowed ostensibly because of the reason that children so young cannot grasp those aspects of cinema because of which the age-specific certification exists.

Punitive measures Violations of various provisions of film certification by producers and exhibitors would attract fines that could range between imprisonment of not less than one year or large fines.

The draft Bill also aims at ensuring that one-third of the members of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), as well as the advisory boards, will be women.


6th April   

Update: Rated as Inadequate...

India TV minister doesn't want to be a censor...but...
Link Here
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India's Information & Broadcasting Minister, Ambika Soni, said she herself was 'shocked' by some of the serials she sees on air.

Some serials are meaningless and take us back in time. I don't want to be a censor board for TV ...BUT... we are talking about homes which have just one TV. So there have to be some self-regulatory norms because what enters our rooms has to be separate from films, she said.

The Minister also said that if self-regulatory norms don't work, the government will have to step in.

She added that she wanted to review the entire ratings system for television or Television Rating Points: The present system of TRPs is not adequate.


5th April   

Poetical Threats...

Indian religious party whinge at play about Pakistani poet
Link Here

Self styled religious police in India have taken action against a Hindi play, Sara , based on the life of a Pakistani poet

Shiv Sena leader Anil Parab said: We received some complaints from local people saying that some of the dialogues in the play are very obscene. So we are demanding that they should be removed.

The party has also given a letter to local police station regarding the issue and asked the play producer Tarun Singh Negi to show its censor certificate.

We will agitate if the objectionable lines are not removed, Shiv Sena local leader Suresh Dube said.

However, the play director Mahesh Dattani said the allegations are baseless: Their complaint letter does not mention any specific dialogue. Initially, they objected to the play, saying it was written by a Pakistani, which is not true. None of the Shiv Sena activists have seen the play .

Threatening calls were also made to the producer and the director who have asked the police for protection.

The drama is written by Shahid Anwar on the life and time of Sara Shagufta, one of Pakistan's most controversial poets. Her life was troubled with personal conflict, which were expressed through her writings.


3rd April   

Killed in the Crossfire...

Bangladesh gallery closed over exhibit about extrajudicial killings
Link Here

Reporters Without Borders urges Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to lift a ban on a photo exhibition in Dakha's Drik gallery about extrajudicial executions by a special police unit.

The press freedom organisation also calls on the police to investigate the death threats that have been made against the gallery's founder, the well-known photographer Shahidul Alam.

The censorship of this exhibition is a serious violation of freedom of expression, Reporters Without Borders said. The threats against our colleague, Shahidul Alam, are very disturbing and cast doubt on the possibilities of freely debating human rights issues in Bangladesh.

The press freedom organisation added: The abuses practiced by certain police officers in the course of their efforts to combat crime are a disgrace to the rule of law in Bangladesh. The reporters who expose them play a key role in helping to put a stop to these practices. We urge the government to keep the promises it made before the election to respect human rights.

The Dakha police closed the Drik gallery on 22 March 2010, just before the opening of the exhibition of photos and displays about extrajudicial executions by members of Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The exhibition is called Crossfire, because the police claim that their victims are caught in the crossfire when the police act in legitimate self-defence or to prevent criminals escaping. Human Rights Watch puts the number of people killed by the RAB at around 500.


2nd April   

Kissing the Publicist...

First gay kiss passed by the Indian censor
Link Here

India's cinema screens will soon show Bollywood's first gay kiss in Pankh, according to Mid Day.

The Censor Board reportedly passed a kissing scene between actors Maradona Rebello and Amit Purohit in the movie without any cuts.

Another sequence where Rebello goes nude hidden by pixellation has also been passed.

The film's director Sudipto Chattopadhyaya has reportedly claimed that the kiss is actually a case of molestation as Purohit's character gets drunk and forcibly kisses Rebello's, who he believes is gay.

Chattopadhyaya also apparently said that the nude scene was pivotal to the plot.

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