Bollywood is cleaner; Censor scissors southern films more

By HT

Contrary to popular perception, Bollywood is not the bad boy of Indian cinema. Tamil and Telgu cinema are worse than Bollywood when it comes to violence and showing women in bad light in celluloid.

The Indian cinema's watchdog - the Censor Board - had to use its scissors more on regional cinema from southern India than the usual culprit Bollywood to ensure that the movies are fit for screening even under adult category.

Information provided by the board under Right To Information Act to Pune based Vihar Druve shows that since 2008 the maximum number of cuts imposed were on Tamil films followed by Tamil, Kannada and Hindi films.

In the five year period, the board cut 592 scenes from Tamil films, 509 from Telgu and 457 on Kannada films. Hindi was fourth in the list with 222 cuts even though it had maximum number of films cleared by the board during the period.

Analysis of the data shows that the board had to cut a scene from every second Tamil and Telgu films whereas in case of Bollywood the rate was one scene in every four films. Proportion of the cuts applied to the total number of movies cleared in other regional language movies such as Bhojpuri, Marathi and Gujarati during this period was higher than Bollywood.

But, the cuts in movies had irked noted film-makers. At a recent conference to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema, film directors like Ramesh Sipply of Sholay fame and K Hariharan from southern cinema expressed their anguish at unnecessary intrusion in the creative work by the board.

"It is time to disband a board which is colonial remnant of attempt to restrict freedom of expression," Hariharan had said.

The I&B ministry officials had, however, defended the board but agrees that there was a need to have a re-look at rules and make them more industry friendly. "Many scenes have been allowed in recent years which would have been a clear no in the past," said a senior censor board official, explaining that the board has moderated with time.

Movies such as Delhi Belly, Dirty Picture, Vishwapooram and Aandhi had trouble with the Censor Board in recent past. The board had also been under attack for being a moral inspector for the cinema.

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