Indian American Jayan Cherian’s film ‘Ka Bodyscapes’ rejected by Censor Board of India

The board has asked Cherian to appeal before the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has once again refused to certify Indian American director Jayan Cherian’s Malayalam movie Ka Bodyscape for public screening. The decision comes despite the fact that the movie received positive judgement from the Kerala High Court.

CBFC sent a letter to the New York-based film maker saying that the movie glorifies “the subject of gay and homosexual relationship and portrayed the Hindu religion in a derogatory manner by showing Lord Hanuman “in poor light as gay”.

“The film is explicit of scene offending Hindu sensibilities depicting vulgarity and obscenity through the movie. The religion of ‘Hindu’ is portrayed in a derogatory manner especially Lord Hanuman (shown in a poor light as gay) which may cause law and order problem in the society,” read the letter from CBFC that was posted by Cherian on his social media handles.

It also says, “The film contains posters depicting homosexuality throughout the movie and derogatory remarks against women. Abusive language is used in most of the places and also a female Muslim character is shown masturbating. The film has references to Hindu organizations indirectly which is unwarranted.”

Jayan Cherian

The board also asks the director to go in appeal before the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, if he so desires, in 30 days.

In Ka Bodyscapes Cherian tells the story of three youths living in the city of Calicut: Haris, a gay painter, Vishnu, a rural Kabaddi player and their friend Sia. The story is told through the struggles of these three-young people who search for a space for themselves to be happy in a conservative Indian city.

“The film was first submitted to the CBFC in Thiruvananthapuram in April last year, but they refused to certify it, as did the Revising Committee in Chennai,” Cherian told to The Indian Express.

“I then approached the High Court, where the judge asked the CBFC to certify the film in 30 days. However, the CBFC chose to ignore the judgement and filed an appeal, stating that the case should have been addressed by a bench with more than one judge. In December 2016, the two-judge bench dismissed that appeal and asked them to certify the film in 90 days. But that too was overlooked by the CBFC,” Cherian told the English daily.

“The Second Revising Committee, headed by CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani, again refused the film a certification,” the film maker added.

In his judgement, Justice P B Sureshkumar has said that the film doesn’t offend the censor board guidelines.

“Mere references to homosexuality and masturbation of women may not amount to obscenity or vulgarity. Only if the entire theme is disclosed, the question whether these amount to vulgarity can be ascertained…,” Sureshkumar said. “The freedom to think and act differently is an essential feature of democracy. The said freedom includes freedom to react and respond to the same situations differently and distinctly. one cannot expect everybody to express themselves in the same manner. If the freedom to express one’s ideas is not conceded, there will not be any creativity at all.”

Earlier in an interview with The American Bazaar Cherian shared his concerns about Ka Bodyscape’s India release.

“We made the film for Indian audiences, not exclusively for Western audiences. Our concern is that we have to be able to pub his film out there and it is a challenge for us to get it to the people… We have to have a society where everybody cam express themselves and any artist can show their work publicly. We also need more art for the people and that’s what we are aiming for,” he told The American Bazaar.

A similar fate was awarded to Lipstick Under My Burkha, the movie directed by Prakash Jha citing laughable reason that the film is “lady oriented”.

The letter, which CBFC had issued in support of its statement, read: “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused under guidelines (sic).”

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