By Sharanya Gopinathan
So DNA India just published a report that says that the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) has been instructed by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to remove all signs of physical and verbal abuse against women in movies.
I have two very conflicting feelings about this. Part of me is a bit happy, because the movies have a huge role to play in influencing and deciding people’s mindsets, and showing them what is both normal and desirable.
It’s also dangerous to desensitise people’s minds to violence against women by bombarding them with images of it in the movies: it makes both men and women think that this kind of violence is normal, widespread and acceptable, and takes away from how shocking and horrifying it is. Plus, it was always a bit annoying how they would put up a warning about cigarettes and alcohol whenever they showed up in movies, but it was apparently perfectly fine to show images of women getting beaten without any rider that it was disgusting and illegal and that the actors don’t support it.
On the other hand, it makes me wonder what this will mean for people who are trying to make movies, and also, what it means that there’s a government body telling us what words we are allowed to use, or what images we’re allowed to see.
DNA reports that this new move also means that words that are abusive towards women will also be removed from movies. While I would love for movies to be less verbally abusive towards women, it’s infantilising for the CBFC (or anyone) to tell us which swear words to use. And while I am of course also sick to death of stuffy directors saying that all their scenes of rape and violence and abuse against women are necessary for their art or whatever, it is still, at the end of the day, art, and we should be wary of any kind of muzzle on any kind of expression. And it isn’t like the CBFC is the most discerning body out there: every other day, it makes the news for banning or cutting out scenes from great movies just because they don’t fit their strange sensibilities.
But for once, and believe me, I never thought I’d say this, it feels like the CBFC is coming from a good place with this move, or at least has some good intentions in mind. We’ve all been waiting for directors and members of the film industry to just organically realise that they can’t keep selling violence and sexism against women, but since that doesn’t seem like it’s happening, maybe the CBFC just took note of the immense impact that cinema has on society and tried to do it’s own little part.
Still, it’s never wise to accept a government turning into a nanny state and controlling what people can see and say. What do you think?