By Sagar S Jun. 07, 2016
A film about drug abuse in Punjab is objectionable. But it is okay to portray all Catholic Goans as drunks and all south Indians as lungi-wearing “Madrasis”.
The Central Board of Film Certification has, once again, displayed an uncanny knack of remaining in the news. This time a committee has objected to a movie based in Punjab, making references to Punjab. This may not come as a surprise because our censor board, over the last week, has fought hard for the government’s Employee of the Year Award, by carrying on a nonsensical campaign against any kind of creative expression that doesn’t fit the views of that 40-year-old uncle who sends “non-veg jokes” on WhatsApp.
The committee wanted to temper the “reality” of the film about drug abuse in Punjab, demanding that the producers only release it after 89 cuts, including all references to the state, its politics, and the upcoming elections. So what the board is essentially saying is, “Hey social media, there’s a movie about drugs in Punjab, but we don’t want you to know that it’s happening in Punjab, so we’re making a big deal about it!” Which is probably not the way I would have done it. The producers, Anurag Kashyap in particular, argue that it’s one of our more realistic movies in recent times, and referred to the dictatorship in North Korea to drive home his point about censorship.
Meanwhile, Bollywood has been allowed to systematically perpetuate ridiculous stereotypes of nearly all races and communities over the years, with no cuts. Here’s a few that you missed out on, censor board.
For instance, why is your typical south Indian man always “Madrasi”? And why do they always exclaim “aiyoo”? Should the Kerala government not be up in arms about most of Johnny Lever’s career? (In Khiladi, one of Lever’s most memorable roles, he played an obnoxious Malyali nariyal paaniwala with four children to feed, and two machetes lodged in his dhoti.)
Not everyone has the same sense of humour. But if we’re so worried about the “reality” of this very serious situation in Punjab, shouldn’t we also spare a thought for all the people we offend when trying to be funny?
What about Deepika Padukone’s cringeworthy accent in Chennai Express? You probably thought that was cool, since Padukone is South Indian anyway. But we’re sorry to break it to you, she’s Konkani, not Tamilian. (Ten points if you learnt the difference between the two from a Bollywood film). The movie also featured a Punjabi rapper repeating “lungi dance” over and over, so as not to lose out on that all-important north Indian appeal, and ensure south Indians hate the North even more.
But since the objections to the film, led by Punjab’s ruling party, Shiromani Akali Dal, are to the negative portrayal of the state, let’s focus on Punjab. In almost all Karan Johar or Yash Chopra films, Punjabis are OTT, Patiala-peg chugging, Lassi-guzzling, Sarson-field rappers (or Bhangra artists if they’re wearing turbans). Is that the real Punjab, censor board? Is Kirron Kher really everyone’s mother there?
Just as the South has its lungis and Bengal has its rosogollas, the poor Parsis have their stereotypes too. They’re always wearing those round hats and walking with black canes. In their free time they’re waxing eloquent about vintage cars. Why aren’t Parsis up in arms about that? The Goan tourists doing drugs and going to raves might be semi-accurate, but don’t you think you should’ve cut out the parts about all local Catholic Goans being drunk all the time? Doesn’t that count as negative portrayal? Oh, and also, what happened to the Northeast? Have you censored all of it out, just like the Indian media?
And while we are at it, why do we not ban scenes that portray Indian men as your typical north Indian, gym-loving, sunglass-wearing assholes? Why don’t we ban scenes where women are objectified by letchy men? And seriously, shouldn’t we drop the homosexual pansy stereotype already?
Another critique the censor board has for Udta Punjab is the “excessive swearing”. Meanwhile, Riteish Deshmukh continues to star in his “Let’s Tease Women For A Bit” movies supported by fugly friend Tusshar Kapoor. Deshmukh was also the lead in something called Grand Masti. How the fuck did this pass your approval, board? Was the awful pun not obvious enough? How is something like Mastizaade, a movie about two idiot sex-obsessed molesters, acceptable? How is Tusshar Kapoor inserting random objects into a homosexual man’s butthole funny?
Maybe we don’t understand humour the same way all these people do, and that’s fair. Not everyone has the same sense of humour. But if we’re so worried about the “reality” of this very serious situation in Punjab, shouldn’t we also spare a thought for all the people we offend when trying to be funny? For instance, in Sajid Khan’s tragedy Housefull, Chunky Pandey plays an “Italian” man named Aakhri Pasta. If the exaggerated accent and hand gestures weren’t enough, he also throws around Spanish phrases like “señorita” and “gracias”, which is one way to offend the people of three countries in one go.
So there you have it, CBFC. We’re not asking for much – just an appeal to put the cens back in the censor board.