Melon Farmers Original Version

South Asia Censorship News

2013: Jan-March

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Negative Depiction of a Failed State...

GI Joe: Retaliation banned in Pakistan

Link Here31st March 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a 2013 USA action thriller by Jon M. Chu.
With Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum. YouTube icon IMDb

The latest installment of the Hollywood film franchise GI Joe , has been banned in Pakistan for its negative portrayal of the country, according to officials of the Central Board of Film Censors.

GI Joe: Retaliation starts off with an American special security team recovering lost nuclear warheads in Pakistan. The story depicts Pakistan as an unstable country in which terrorists are on the verge of stealing the country's nuclear assets.

Censor Iftikhar Durrani, the adviser on national regulation and services,  explained that the film portrays Pakistan negatively, not just on the issue of the war on terror, but also in the context of the country's international standing:

There is a scene which shows the assassination of the Pakistani president and the imposition of martial law, which is not a fair representation of the country.

Meanwhile, Atrium Cinema elaborated that the film had been banned as it showed Pakistan in a negative light:

Due to initial scenes depicting Pakistan as a failed state and fictionally portraying foreign invasion of Pakistan's nuclear installations.



Update: What do you do when there is nothing left to censor and society is still shite?...

Indian government debates whether the film censor's latest rules are just plain silly

Link Here 30th March 2013

India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry has called for a truce between filmmakers and the film censors of the CBFC over new censorship ideas.

Films are being blamed for recent rape cases and generally bad attitudes to women. Pressure has been brought to bear on the censors to cut more from films. However as the portrayal of sex is already banned from Indian films, then the censors have been scratching round for ideas. They have come up with the idea of 'item songs' being adult rated. These are songs where a female singer is the focus of attention from a set full of admiring guys. The censors have also come up with the idea of banning girls (but not wives) from being slapped by men.

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has now stepped in to broker peace between the warring parties - the producers and the Board. The I&B Ministry has called for a meeting with all parties concerned between April 3 and April 5.

The meeting will set the pace for the necessary amendments to the Cinematograph Act 1952, after taking into consideration suggestions by all concerned. Special song and dance numbers, foul language, and scenes portraying actors and actresses smoking and drinking are likely to be discussed during the meet.

Film producer Mukesh Bhatt:

Today, there is a lot of ambiguity about what will be cut and what will go through. As things stand, there are no guidelines.

Meanwhile, a filmmaker on the condition of anonymity, said censors seem to have turned a bit too prudish:

Recently, Leela Samson assured there is a wrong impression within the film industry that the Censor Board has adopted a rule to certify all special numbers with an 'A' (adults only) certificate. Despite the assurance, filmmakers are extremely cagey. The meeting on April 3 is very good news for the films being made.



Updated: Blasphemy Against Free Speech...

Bangladesh extends blog censorship to avoid protests

Link Here30th March 2013
Full story: Blasphemy in Bangladesh...Penalising disbelief

Bangladesh has extended the censorship of supposedly blasphemous blogs after a threat by extremist muslims to march to the capital to demand the prosecution of atheist blogger.

The internet censor has ordered two leading Internet sites to remove hundreds of posts by seven bloggers whose writings are claimed to have 'offended' Muslims, according to its assistant director Rahman Khan:

These writings have defamed Islam and the Prophet Mohammed. The two sites, and, have removed most of the posts.

Khan said the regulator was scrutinising other sites to identify and erase blasphemous blogs in an attempt to appease the extremists.

Update: Mass protest in Dahka calls for blasphemy laws against bloggers

30th March 2013. See  article from

Tens of thousands of muslim activists prayed on the streets of the Bangladeshi capital today during a rally calling for the introduction of blaspemy laws and the restoration of a caretaker government.

Members of the Islami Andolan Bangladesh are demanding the arrest of atheist bloggers who insulted Islam and to pass laws punishing those who insulted Islam in the parliament .

They have announced plans to lay siege to the office of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on April 25 if their demands are not met.



No Slap and Tickle Before Marriage...

India film censor seems to have written a new rule that a man is not allowed to be shown slapping his partner until they are married

Link Here29th March 2013

India's Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) has written new rules about slapping scenes in movies.

A film titled Bazar-E-Husn is being issued an adults only 'A' certificate with three cuts for its depiction of violence against women.

Says producer AK Mishra:

They have asked me to delete three slapping scenes, including the one in which a villain slaps his wife. I was told by the committee members that they have a directive from the board that atrocities against women cannot be shown in cinema.

The CBFC letter addressed to the producer states that only the visuals of slapping scenes after marriage could be retained. The remaining slapping scenes have to be deleted.

Insisting that this is a period film, Mishra says, I find these rules ridiculous. He has refused to accept the cuts and now the film has been appealed to the revising committee.



Update: Improper Blurring...

Indian Government bans FashionTV for 10 days over supposedly indecent broadcasts

Link Here29th March 2013
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

Upset over the broadcast of supposedly indecent visuals on Fashion TV, a committee of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry ordered that the channel be taken off air for 10 days.

The ministry said it had issued a show cause notice to FTV after it telecast programmes like Midnight Haute & Designers in High Definition ,'Chantellie Lingerie, Paris' and Lingerie in September 2011. It claimed that the visuals offended good taste and decency and were obscene and vulgar and not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and also for children.

According to the panel, the programme Designers in high definition showed models walking on the ramp while a man in an underwear was clinging to a woman in an embrace in the background:

Both are shown insinuatingly swaying their bodies and making suggestive postures. Such a portrayal appears to offend good taste and decency and also appears obscene.

Again in April 2012, the channel telecast another programme 15th Anniversary- Top Designers . The committee claimed:

The programme showed nudity of female bosom, which appeared obscene and vulgar, showing form and figure of women in an indecent way. The visuals did not appear suitable for unrestricted public exhibition and also not suitable for children.

Representatives of FTV during a personal hearing at the panel said there was no nudity in the content. When the committee offered them to show recorded instances where buttocks and breast were fully exposed, they replied that these instances would have happened due to improper blurring.

This is the third time that the government has ordered FTV to be taken off air.



Update: Wall of Censorship...

Mumbai police set up a lab for the surveillance and censorship of internet social networks

Link Here20th March 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in India...India considers blanket ban on internet porn

Mumbai police have set up a group for the surveillance of social networks.

This follows several arrests across the country for political cartoons or comments made online.

Obviously internet users are worried. Sunil Abraham, executive director of the Bangalore-based Centre for Internet and Society research group, said the natural reaction was to worry about the new police lab given the way the law has been used. He told AFP:

Police in the last four years have acted in an arbitrary and random fashion, often using the IT Act to settle political scores

When there's no crisis for the police, proactively keeping an eye on what people are saying or doing is overkill.

But the police unconvincingly claim that this will not be censorship.

Police commissioner Satyapal Singh claimed the lab was not set up to censor comments. His spin on police censorship was:

By reading the mindset of what people are writing on various modes of communication, we will try to provide better and improved safety and security to the Mumbai citizens.



An Insult to Free Expression...

Bangladesh announces a panel of internet censors to trace supposed blasphemy on social networks

Link Here15th March 2013

Bangladesh has announced plans to monitor social media networks such as Facebook in a bid to identify bloggers who have been accused of insulting Islam and the religious character Mohammed.

A special panel is being set up, including leaders of the main intelligence agencies and the telecoms regulator, to exchange information and track down the people behind recent posts that have caused 'outrage' among Islamic groups.

Mainuddin Khandaker, a senior home ministry official who will head the panel, threatened:

We will try our best to dig out what's actually happening and find out the people who're making blasphemous comments against Islam and the Prophet.

There might be differences in opinion, but that does not mean anyone in the country has the rights to mock others' beliefs.

Islamic parties and leading clerics have targeted writings by atheist bloggers, calling nationwide strikes in protest and demanding the execution of those they accuse of blasphemy. Last month an alleged anti-Islam blogger was murdered. At least eight people have been killed in the anti-blasphemy protests. The government has blocked about a dozen websites and blogs to stem the violence, as well as stepping up security for the bloggers, some of whom claim to have been threatened by the activists of a leading Islamic party.



Making a Song and Dance about It...

Indian film censors consign sexy dance numbers to the adult category

Link Here11th March 2013

India recently traumatised by a particularly nasty gang rape incident in Delhi. Somehow films seem to have been selected to carry the can, and so censorship has had to be ratcheted up a notch. But it is not easy to find much else to censor when nudity and sex have been banned for years anyway. However a suitably ludicrous scapegoat was found in dance numbers where an admiring chorous line of guys swarm round a female singer. These so called 'item songs' now seemed destined to invoke an adults only A certificate from the film censors. And the first victim has inevitably kicked up a bit of a todo.

The Central Board of Film Certification's (CBFC) initial decision to give Priyanka Chopra's item number Babli Badmaash in Shootout At Wadala an A certificate has taken the film industry by shock and surprise. An A certification disallows the producers, Balaji Motion Pictures and audio label, Sony Music, from promoting the track on television during prime time.

Tanuj Garg of  Balaji Motion Pictures said:

After submitting Babli Badmaash for certification, we were informed that it would get an 'A' because it was an item track. We were shocked and informed the CBFC that the industry was not aware of such a rule. We were later told that there was no blanket directive; songs would be certified according to their content.

Soon after, the Film and Television Producers Guild wrote to the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, stating that the industry deserved to be informed about the new regulation. The guild explained how most of these special songs are mainly used as a promotional song/video. If dance numbers are going to be held back after being labelled item songs , all pre-release marketing plans will go down the drain, they said.

The film industry, understandably, is against any arbitrary change in the certification of item songs. A senior producer asked:

What is an item number? How does one define it? It is a phrase with no formal dictionary meaning. It is an industry-coined phrase. A rule cannot be made about something that is so inherently vague and subjective.

In the meanwhile, the industry is waiting with bated breath to see if Babli Badmaash is cleared by the board's appeals committee.

Meanwhile the Censor Board has claimed that there is no move yet to give A certificate to all dance numbers and such film songs will be examined on a case-to-case basis. Leela Samson, Chairperson, CBFC, said in a statement:

For the last few weeks there seems to have been an impression in the media, and also within the film industry, that CBFC has adopted a rule to certify all dance numbers with an 'A' certificate. I would like to unambiguously clarify that no such decision has been taken either by the Board or by I and B Ministry, and nor is such a move being contemplated,

The guidelines governing certification of films, trailors, or any part thereof, simply state that they will be certified depending on the age-group of audiences that they are suitable for. Hence, dance numbers too will continue to be examined purely on a case-to-case basis to see whether they are suitable for a U, UA, or A certificate.



Updated: Maligning Free Speech...

Indian film censors ban the film Kangal Malsat for political reasons

Link Here6th March 2013

After India's Central Board of Film Certification banned the Bengali film Kangal Malsat (War Cry of Beggars), its director Suman Mukhopadhyay explained that the board had objected to the comments in the film on the movement against land acquisition in Singur.

Mukhopadhyay, told The Hindu:

It was dangerous for a democratic State to act in a manner where artists cannot be allowed to express their views freely.

He approached Film Certification Appellate Tribunal regarding the matter. A letter to Mukhopadhyay from the regional office of the censor board states that the pull-out from Singur of Tata Motors has been portrayed in a way that seems to malign or at least look down upon a significant movement of civic society.

Haranath Chakraborty, a member of the censor board claimed that there was no political reason behind the ban:

From beginning to end, the characters use offensive language. The director was asked to delete some dialogues, which he refused.

Update: Unbanned on Appeal

6th March 2013. See  article from

Kangal Malsat, the movie banned by the film censors for distorting history through its depiction of Mamata Banerjee's swearing-in ceremony, has been cleared and is likely to hit theatres soon but only after director Suman Mukhopadhyay was forced to make extensive cuts.

The Film Certification Apellate Tribunal headed by chairman Lalit Bhasin dismissed most objections raised by the Censor Board, like the depiction of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and a reference to the Tatas withdrawing from Bengal, after it watched the film in Delhi. The tribunal also dismissed objections raised over excessive sexuality and had no objection to the use of abusive language since that is what the characters speak , Mukhopadhyay said.

However, though it didn't agree with the Censor Board that the depiction of the swearing-in was a distortion of history, it asked the director not to show the actual ceremony as the movie was a work of fiction, not a biopic. Mukhopadhyay was also asked reduce the 76 swear words by 50% , according to the Central Board of Film Certification, and tone down political comments that it found too harsh .



Offsite Article: Easily Offended Censors...

Link Here6th March 2013
How India's Censor Board has initiated a banning boom

See article from



Offsite Article: The Kafkaesque reality of Pakistan's blasphemy laws...

Link Here 1st March 2013
Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's ambassador to the US, is under police investigation for alleged blasphemy after making the case on television for the law to be re-examined and for the death penalty to be removed

See article from



Dangerous Blogging...

Blogger murdered for his role in organising anti-islamist protests in Bangladesh

Link Here23rd February 2013

A Bangladesh blogger has been murdered after he played a large role in organizing big anti-Islamist protests in Dhaka.

Protests championed by the country's bloggers have seen thousands of people take to the streets demanding the execution of leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party who are under trial for war crimes.

Police found the body of Ahmed Rajib, better known by his online identity Thaba Baba, near his home in Dhaka, with his head hacked apart with a machete. Police official Sheikh Motiur Rahman told AFP:

We recovered the machete. It is clear the attacker wanted to murder him. They did not touch his laptop or other valuable objects,

Rajib's brother told AFP his sibling had been threatened frequently by Islamists angry at his role in the protests and his writings against the religion.

The killing was the second fatal attack in Dhaka against a blogger critical of Islamist groups in less than a month, after the stabbing death of a self-styled online militant atheist by three unidentified men near his office.

Update: 4 people die in continuing protests

23rd February 2013. See  article from

At least four people have died in Bangladesh in clashes between police and extremist mulsim protesters who took to the streets accusing bloggers of blasphemy. Dozens more were reported injured. Some were calling for the death  of the bloggers, whom they accuse of insulting Islam.

In the capital, Dhaka, thousands of protesters from an alliance of Islamic parties went on a protest rally soon after Friday prayers in the country's national mosque. Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters who threw stones and vandalised buildings, the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan reports from Dhaka.

Similar violent clashes were reported across the country. In some places, there were clashes between supporters of the ruling Awami League and Islamist activists, our correspondent reports.

Islamist parties have called for a nationwide general strike on Sunday in protest at the killing of their supporters in recent clashes.

Update: Murderous Religious Violence

3rd March 2013.  See  article from

Bangladesh police have arrested five students of from NorthSouthUniversity on charges of murdering an anti-Islamist blogger.

The students allegedly confessed to hacking to death Ahmed Rajib Haider on February 15 after he helped organise protests against leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami party on trial for war crimes, police said.

They targeted him because of his supposedly blasphemous writings against Islam and  Mohammed, Dhaka police deputy commissioner Masudur Rahman told AFP.

Saturday's arrests came as Bangladesh police opened fire on islamic extremists protesting the conviction for war crimes of one of their leaders, killing three people outside the port city of Chittagong. The deaths brought the total number killed since a war crimes tribunal delivered its first verdict on January 21 to at least 56, according to police figures.



Filmmakers Slapped Down...

Disputed claims that India's film censor will ban or cut all violence against women

Link Here15th February 2013

In a kneejerk reaction to the aftermath of the gang-rape in Delhi, it has been claimed that India's Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has formulated a new set of rules.

A CBFC source has claimed that a new censorship rules is:

No violence against women. Period. Not even a slap between a quarreling couple.

We have been given a free hand by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on how to tackle portrayal of women in films. Cinema needs to get more responsible. We will not allow any kind of violence against women. Even if there's slap by a spouse it will be cut.

The censorial axe will also fall heavily on songs and dances which show a woman being surrounded by a whole chorous line of male admiration. The CBFC source adds:

We have no objection to aesthetically done songs and dances. But why show the woman being surrounded by dozens of lusting-leering-cheering men?

There is a before-and-after affect happening in our society. There was violence and exploitation of the female before the Delhi rape. Now the circumstances have changed. And cinema won't be allowed to turn a blind eye to those changed circumstances.

We recently got a Bengali film called Deewana to censor in which a husband slaps his wife during a quarrel. The director explained to us that couples do get violent with one another in real life. And also that in the film, the husband makes up with the wife in the next shot. But sorry, the slap goes. We won't allow a single shot of violence, no matter what the context. Also, from now on, please keep the male chorus dancers away from the female form. No panting and lusting and certainly no touching of the heroine during these dances will be allowed.

However, Pankaja Thakur, CEO of CBFC, denied new censorship rules are being formulated:

There are no new censorship rules. The slap scene from the film Deewana does not have a fighting couple... Just a boy and a girl and it was a promo so nobody knows for sure how the girl is related to the boy. There is no such ban by the CBFC on the so-called item songs. Two such songs were cleared only two days ago in Zilla Ghaziabab. The CBFC is just cautious about depiction of violence on screen, and the context of the violence does matter. In a recent film, there is a scene of an old lady being pushed around by goons, which has been cleared only a day before.



Slaves to Censorship...

India's film censors cut Django unchained

Link Here13th February 2013

Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained has been passed A (adults only) in India with all the violence intact buts cuts to scenes with minor nudity.

Indian viewers will see a cut version with three missing sequences with fleeting nudity:

  • a glimpse of the unclad form of Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington, in a pit (she has been punished by her owner);
  • the sight of Django, played by Jamie Foxx, emerging undressed out of a bathtub;
  • and a trussed-up, nude Django.

Tarantino could well kick up a fuss about the cuts if he wished to. Hollywood's resident enfant terrible has final cut rights---the right to veto objections by producers and distributors and decide the final shape of his work.

This isn't the first time a Tarantino film has come to India a few minutes shorter than its original running length.

  • The World War II drama Inglourious Basterds was released in 2009 without a scene in which an American soldier bashes in the head of a Nazi.
  • The two-part Kill Bill, released in 2003 and 2004, was punished even more severely. The CBFC axed scenes of heads and limbs being chopped off. Another sequence indicating that the lead character, The Bride, is being raped and prostituted by a medical orderly while she is in a coma was censored.



Offsite Article: 12 Years of Banning Films...

Link Here9th February 2013
256 films banned by the Indian film censor between 2001 and 2011

See article from



Update: Centralising Censorship...

Indian government sets up panel to prevent the fragmentation of film censorship in light of the Tamil Nadu state ban on Vishwaroopam

Link Here5th February 2013
Full story: Vishwaroopam...Indian spy thriller attracts protest for depicting muslims as the baddies

After Kamal Hasan's Vishwaroopam faced ban from the Tamil Nadu government, the government has constituted a panel to examine issues of certification under the Cinematograph Act 1952 to ensure than films cleared by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) do not get disrupted thereafter.

The committee will be chaired by Mukul Mudgal, a retired Chief Justice, the ministry of information & broadcasting (I&B) said in a press statement.

The 8 member panel would also have Lalit Bhasin, chairperson, Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, Sharmila Tagore, former chairperson, CBFC and Javed Akhtar along with others, it added.

According to the ministry, the committee has been asked to review the mandate and functioning of central board of film certification (CBFC) and recommend measures including statutory changes to enable CBFC to deal with contemporary requirements of certification and increased transparency/efficiency.



Update: Appeased...

Vishwaroopam set to be unbanned after agreement to cut 7 scenes

Link Here4th February 2013
Full story: Vishwaroopam...Indian spy thriller attracts protest for depicting muslims as the baddies

Indian movie maker Kamal Hassan has reached a settlement with Muslim organizations in southern India and agreed to delete seven scenes from his latest spy thriller Vishwaroopam.

The Tamil Nadu government had banned Hassan's film in the state following protests from several islamic groups objecting to the film's portrayal of muslim baddies.

Hassan and Muslim leaders reached an agreement after more than five hours of talks. Islamic groups have promised to call off their protests against the film and withdraw legal cases that they have filed against the filmmaker.

Update: Madras High Court refuses ban

6th February 2013. See  article from

The Madras High Court has refused to ban Vishwaroopam citing that cuts have been agreed in Tamil Nadu and that the film is being shown in the rest of the country.



Update: Un-banned and Re-banned...

Meanwhile Muslims bomb cinemas in protest at being depicted as terrorists

Link Here31st January 2013
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

Vishwaroopam is a 2013 India crime action thriller by Kamal Hassan.
With Kamal Hassan, Pooja Kumar and Andrea Jeremiah. YouTube icon IMDb

Muslims protesting against Kamal Haasan's film Vishwaroopam hurled petrol bombs at two theatres in Tamil Nadu where the movie was scheduled to be screened on Wednesday following the High Court staying the ban imposed by the State Government. There are no reports of injuries. Glass panes at the theatres were shattered.

Meanwhile, Kamal Haasan met with representatives of the Muslim community and later told newspersons that he had come to an amicable settlement over the dispute that rose from his using verses from the Quran in Vishwaroopam:

This film is not against Indian Muslims. It is in support of Indian Muslims. There seems to be some confusion over the use of Quranic verses and I am willing to edit out these references.

Meanwhile Madras High Court re-instates ban

The problems for Vishwaroopam increased after the Madras High Court Wednesday set aside the single judge's interim order that allowed screening of the film in the state. Hearing the appeal made by the Tamil Nadu government against the single judge's order, a two-member high court bench set aside the former's order.

The high court bench chaired by Justice Dharma Rao has nullified the revocation of the ban on the film by Justice K. Venkataraman Tuesday. Rao said:

The film stays banned as of now and it can't be screened across Tamil Nadu.

Meanwhile the Vishwaroopam ban is unacceptable, says chief censor

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chairperson Leela Samson says that the ban on Vishwaroopam is unacceptable:

This is hounding of an artist, a man who is an icon of Tamil Nadu. We are sensitive to issues. The group objecting to 'Vishwaroopam' have the freedom not to view it. We will object to the language used by the lawyer representing the Tamil Nadu government against the censor board.

It is absolutely unacceptable. We have certified hundreds and thousands of films but only with 'Vishwaroopam', people find, it has not been done with due diligence? This is an infringement on freedom of expression.



Updated: Goodies and Baddies...

Malaysia joins Indian states in banning the Tamil spy thriller Vishwaroopam

Link Here30th January 2013
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

Vishwaroopam is a 2013 India crime action thriller by Kamal Hassan.
With Kamal Hassan, Pooja Kumar and Andrea Jeremiah. YouTube icon IMDb

Kamal Haasan's controversial film Vishwaroopam has been banned from local cinemas in Malaysia a day after its release following a directive from the Home Ministry, much to the disappointment ethnic Indians in Kuala Lumpur.

Film distribution company Lotus Fivestar AV's director R Ramalingam said the ministry told him to stop screening the movie on Friday. The film, which opened in Malaysia on Thursday, had played to full cinemas before being removed from the theatres.

Vishwaroopam has been passed by the Central Board of Film Censors but has been temporarily banned in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu for two weeks amid allegations by the Muslim community that they have been depicted negatively in the movie. Haasan has taken the matter to the Madras High Court and a decision is pending.

The film is playing in the state of Kerala but cinema goers are having to brave muslim protests.

Sri Lanka has ordered a delay in the release in favour of a review by censors.

In the UK the film has been passed 12A for cinema release after 11s of category cuts. The BBFC commented:

Company chose to remove two moments of bloody violence in order to obtain a 12A rating. An uncut 15 rating was available.

VISHWAROOPAM is a thriller in the Hindi and Tamil languages about a woman unsuspectingly married to one of India's top secret agents. It is rated 12A for moderate violence.

There are a number of fast-paced fights and shoot-outs. Although there are some heavy blows and bullet impacts, little is shown in terms of injury detail, with the focus instead placed on the spectacular and generally unrealistic fight choreography. For example, in one scene the hero uses a Japanese sword to defeat his attackers, cutting off one of their hands. There is no detail of this but the hand is briefly seen flying through the air.

VISHWAROOPAM also contains infrequent mild bad language and mild sex references. There is also some sight of hard drugs, but this occurs within a clear anti drug context.

Presumably the baddies are muslim terrorists and hence the complaints about negative depictions from the muslim community.

Update: Unbanned by the Madras High Court

30th January 2013. See  article from

In a major relief to film makers, the Madras High Court has lifted the ban imposed on the movie Vishwaroopam by the Tamil Nadu government after it courted controversy over its supposedly anti-Muslim content.

The judgement paves the way for the screening of the movie however there are indications that the state government may prefer an appeal.

The court reviewed and accepted the film censorship procedures resulting in the UA certificate (PG) issued after 1:08s of censor cuts. The state's case seemed to be that the decision was taken by an examining committee rather than the full board.

The Tamil Nadu government had banned the screening of the film in the face of opposition by some Muslim outfits, who claimed that the movie portrayed their community in a negative light. It seems that this claim is due to the spy thriller baddies being fictional muslim terrorists.

Update: Meanwhile in Milton Keynes

30th January 2013. From

Angry Muslims staged a protest against a supposedly Islamophobic film outside Milton Keynes' Cineworld cinema.

The group were protesting the UK release of the controversial Indian film Vishwaroopam , which is currently showing in British cinemas. Campaigner Mustapha Zamaan felt the film fuelled negative views against Muslim people and should be banned from British cinemas. He said:

We know there's a number of American films against Muslims but it's a lot different in Indian culture, where they trust film actors like gods. This worship leads to films like this creating racial tension and that's why it's been banned in India. Ideally we want it pulled here too, but we might be a bit late.

We respect freedom of expression... BUT ...this film is hate speech that portrays Muslims negatively.

Update: Unbanned in Malaysia

21st February 2013. See  article from

The Malaysian Authorities on 19 February 2013 lifted the ban imposed on the screening of the Tamil movie Vishwaroopam , directed and produced by Kamal Haasan for public screening.

Earlier on 24 January 2013 the authorities approved the screening of the movie in Malaysia but following the directives released by the Home Ministry that the content of the movie portrayed Islam in a negative light, the approval was withdrawn.

The movie received a go-ahead in Malaysia after the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the National Censorship Board studied the movie from all aspects including religious and security fronts and gave a green signal to its screening.



Aimed at the Bin...

Pakistan film distributors decide that Zero Dark Thirty is better left unshown in cinemas

Link Here29th January 2013

Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty will not be shown in Pakistan's cinemas.

Distributors have decided not risk the wrath of the country's censors, its military and terrorist groups with a movie about the CIA's hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Mohsin Yaseen, general manager for marketing at Cinepax, said derogatory references to Pakistan's military and intelligence agencies meant any distributor would face awkward questions. It's a touchy subject for a Pakistani audience, he said.

Yaseen said his company had recently bought the rights to distribute an Indian film, Tere Bin Laden, which poked fun at the al-Qaeda leader. Pakistan's censors insisted on so many cuts, he said, it was not possible to show the film at all.

He said : When Zero Dark Thirty came out, we thought it best just to keep away from it. He added that other film distributors were in broad agreement.

The film is available on pirated DVDs and has proved a hit with audiences.



Unbanned after Cuts?...

Film producers appeal against the Indian film censor's ban of Sadda Haq

Link Here28th January 2013
Full story: Banned Movies in India...Sex, religion and easy offence

Sadda Haq is a Punjabi movie that was banned by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

It was reviewed by the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) on January 16, 2013.

As per information shared by producer Kuljinder Sidhu: FCAT has recommended few changes and they will review the film again on January 30th .

Update: Unban confirmed

1st February 2013. From

Sadda Haq , a much-awaited Punjabi film dealing with the days of terrorism in Punjab, will witness a worldwide release in theatres on April 5 as the censor board has lifted its ban on the movie. The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) of the censor board gave the green signal to the film after four-month-long deliberations with the film production team and legal luminaries, the film's producer-cum-writer Kuljinder Singh Sidhu said at a press conference:

FCAT chairman Lalit Basin, in the presence of various members of the review committee, notified the censor board through a written notice that the film is based on facts and gives a good social message, so there is nothing objectionable in it.

The Mumbai censor board had imposed a ban on the film, which was submitted to the board for its release on October 20, 2012. The ban was imposed without any particular reason being cited, Sidhu said. On November 14, 2012, the film producer appealed to the review committee of the board, but the panel also banned the film, mentioning in its report that it presented a wrong picture of the police and the government of that time. Sidhu acted on the comment saying:

We have finally got the certification after minor changes dealing with the role of the police during that period.



Offsite Article: Internet freedom in India...Open to debate...

Link Here23rd January 2013
In the aftermath of an Index on Censorship debate New Delhi, Kirsty Hughes says India's web users are standing at a crossroads

See article from



Update: 'Censoring films doesn't make sense...UNLESS'...

Indian scissor happy film censors want to pretend they are not

Link Here21st January 2013

In the light of continuing tension between India and Pakistan, the Indian Censor Board has sought to distance itself from neighbour Pakistan's film board. It wants a new name, Indian Board for Film Certification .

Both Indian and Pakistani film censor boards are currently known as the CBFC, Central Board of Film Certification in India and Central Board of Film Censors in Pakistan. This creates a lot of confusion on international platforms especially at film festivals, said Leela Samson, chairperson of the Indian film board.

The CBFC also wants to hide its work as a censor board by spinning the illusion that it is a classification board. Samson claimed:

In today's day and time, censoring films doesn't make sense ...UNLESS... there are some gross violations such as a constitutional violation or something that hurts communal or religious sentiments [or nudity or sex or vulgarity or indecency or obscenity etc...], we will not recommend the use of scissors. Instead, we will only certify the films as adult or ones that should be viewed with care.

Alongside this the board points out that using English language certificates is not a good idea. Samsom said:

It is a tragedy that... we continue to use English letters to denote whether a film is adult or fit for universal viewing... Most film goers don't even know what 'A' or 'U' stands for.

The CBFC wants certification to be denoted in regional languages apart from using conspicuous pictorial signs or illustrations to inform a viewer if a film has scenes of extreme violence or sex and if it is suitable for children.

Besides the board has asked the government to create more categories of certification.  In particular a new category for children between the ages of 10 and 15 years is one such idea being considered.



Update: Emergency Censorship...

India's film censor doesn't want viewers to hear Salman Rushidie's comment that Indira Gandhi wanted to be treated as a goddess

Link Here16th January 2013

India's film censors at the Central Film Classification Board (CBFC) have ordered a Salman Rushdie comment about Indira Gandhi from the movie, Midnight's Children to be cut.

A source from the Midnight's Children team explained:

As in Salman Rushdie's novel there are scathing references to Mrs Gandhi's policies during the dreaded Emergency in the film.

The Censor Board was divided over the the content related to Mrs Gandhi. Finally, however, they left most of the references to the excesses during the Emergency intact as part of chronicled historical fact.

However Salman Rushdie's voice over has been asked to be changed. At one point in the 'Emergency' section of the film Saman Rushdie's voice over says, 'Indira Gandhi wanted to be treated as a goddess'.

The line has been asked to be deleted by the Censor Board. The censors told Deepa that the line expresses just a random opinion and has no basis in historical fact.



100 Years of Proud Scissorship...

Britain's BBFC celebrated its centenary with a season of films now uncut, but India's CBFC will celebrate with a festival of film cuts

Link Here14th January 2013

To celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is contemplating a festival in Mumbai to showcase censored movie scenes.

As Indian cinema completes 100 years in 2013, the CBFC wants to host a three-day festival showcasing all the cuts they've made to Indian films. The idea, proposed during a recent meeting, was welcomed with gusto. We hear that discussions are being held to make the festival a reality soon.

The festival will show how the process of certifying a film has undergone a metamorphosis in the past six decades. For instance, in the 40s, a kissing scene could get cleared without any hassle, but in the 50s, when guidelines changed, censoring became more repressive, and it has not got much better since.



Update: Governments With No Benefits...

Indian shuts down TV channel for 2 weeks for airing a trailer to a 15 rated romantic comedy

Link Here10th January 2013
Full story: TV Censorship in India...India considers the regulation of TV for adults

India's government has directed all cable and television platforms not to carry SS TV channel for a fortnight from the midnight of 15 January to the midnight of 30 January for telecasting the trailer for the supposedly  'adult' film Friends with benefits on 30 September 2011. The film is a comedy romance that is 15 rated in the UK.

Television transmission platforms have also been prohibited from carrying Zing and Enterr 10 television channels for one day from midnight of 12 January for telecasting 'adult' films in violation of the programme code.

While Zing TV had telecast the adult film Hawas in January, the Enterr 10 channel telecast three Hindi feature films -- Musafir on 29 September 2011, Plan on 19 October 2011 and Aashiq Banaya Apnne on 31 January 2012.

In the case of Hawas , the directive noted that the film showed visuals of passionate love making and kissing scenes between a couple, who were shown to be clinging to each other and writhing in bed in an explicit portrayal of sexual desires overpowering them. Such a portrayal is distinctly meant for adult audience, for which CBFC had appropriately given A certification to the said film.



Update: The Great Firewall of Pakistan...

Pakistan considers what to do with an expensive new internet censorship toy bought in from China

Link Here3rd January 2013
Full story: Internet Censorship in Pakistan...internet website blocking

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and the Ministry of Information Technology are debating how to use a new system to censor websites and their contents.

The system is being imported from China and is expected to control internet traffic and activities across the country as per PTA policies.

PTA have been holding consultations over this new project with other parties interested in censorship including the Ministry of Interior, the Armed Forces of Pakistan, various intelligence agencies and NTSC.

Sources privy to the Ministry for Information Technology told Pakistan Today that the ministry had a few reservations regarding the system, its capabilities and above all its massive cost.

According to details about the project, a central point would be established by PTA from where all internet traffic inside the country would flow and supposedly objectionable content and pornographic websites would be blocked from there. Under the new mechanism, URL filtering software worth $ 5 million would also be installed at four landing stations of submarine cable which would control internet content on mobile phones as well.

According to media reports, various objections are being raised by groups who contend that, emails, mobile phone internet traffic and mobile phone calls would then be monitored by the government.

PTA Chairman Farooq Ahmed Khan denied such surveillance but confirmed that in the next 60 days a new mechanism for blocking un-Islamic, pornographic and blasphemous material from websites will be activated.




Indian rapper's gig is cancelled at the last minute after online petition against misogynistic lyrics

Link Here1st January 2013

An online petition and a twitter campaign against Indian rapper Honey Singh led to a New Year's Eve concert by him at Gurgaon's Bristol hotel being cancelled at the last minute.

The chart-topping singer also ran into legal trouble after a case against him was lodged against him with the police.

IPS officer Amitabh Thakur lodged the case against Singh on grounds of supposed obscenity for:

Extremely vulgar and indecent songs and that the rapper's misogynistic and deeply troubling lyrics described how woman could be sexually assaulted. This cannot be accepted at all, particularly when the country is mourning the death of the Delhi gang-rape victim and is outraged over increasing crime against women.

In Gurgaon, confusion prevailed at the venue gates. The crowd was still trickling in till as late as 9pm, even though the event management company that was organising the concert had confirmed much earlier that the show had been scrapped owing to the internet blackout in Delhi.

The Internet petition against Singh was started by Delhi-based writer Kalpana Misra, who believes the lyrics of some of his songs are pornographic, unacceptable, and grossly misogynistic. By Monday evening, Misra's petition had more than 2,500 online supporters. And all through the day, the social networking site Twitter was abuzz over the same issue, with Honey Singh's Gurgaon gig becoming a trending topic.

Update: Case filed

28th February 2013. See  article from

A judicial magistrate court has directed the police to inquire into the alleged obscene lyrics of Punjabi rapper Honey Singh and asked them to file a report by April 4.

Sanjay Khera, a local resident, had filed a complaint under sections of IPC related to obscenity offences on January 3 against Singh demanding ban on his music albums. In the complaint moved through advocate Sandeep Sachdeva, Khera had claimed that Singh's songs were vulgar and obscene in nature, and not fit to be aired.

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