The makers of indie film Angry Indian Goddesses have claimed that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked them to blur images of goddesses Lakshmi and Kali. These two cuts were part of the list of 18 changes that the CBFC “suggested” to the makers.
The film, directed by Pan Nalin, opened at the Toronto Film Festival earlier this year and releases in India on Friday. The other changes in the film suggested by the panel included muting words such as ‘adivasi’ and changing the name of the film.
“We were told the film’s title doesn’t fit in with its content so we should change it,” said Gaurav Dhingra, the film’s producer. The film, added Dhingra, was denied a certification the first time it was screened before the examining committee panel. “We were not given any reason then, but were later told that the film isn’t in tandem with the title,” said Dhingra.
Unclear on the next course and keen to release the film, which has Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sarah-Jane Dias, Anushka Manchanda, Sandhya Mridul and Adil Hussain as part of the key cast, the makers returned to the examining committee with many voluntary cuts, including muting of expletives. This time, the committee agreed to certify the film but “suggested” 18 changes.
“We were asked to blur the images of Lakshmi and Kali, shorten a lovemaking scene and delete a kiss. There was also a suggestion to delete the word ‘lunch’ in a scene where a girl is told by her friend ‘Here comes your lunch’ upon spotting a man,” he said.
They also asked the makers to add a disclaimer stating that the film, which is touted to be a female buddy film, is a work of fiction.“We fought hard when we were asked to change the title. Their argument was that using the word ‘goddess’ for women is not right. But we argued that even the Prime Minister refers to the country’s populace as deviyon aur sajjanon. If he can, then why can we not have the word ‘goddess’ in the title?” quipped Dhingra.
Dhingra then applied to the revising committee, but the two scheduled screenings were cancelled. “By then, we were too close to the release date and decided to withdraw the application for a revision. I had to protect my film and investors. We have sold the film all over the world,” said Dhingra, who feels the changes don’t take away from the film and final version retains the essence.
CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani said the changes were not random. “They were made in context of the film. Once people watch the film, they will understand,” he said.