At a time when the controversy surrounding Bollywood film Udta Punjab has stirred up the censorship debate, the Malayalam film industry is caught in a tussle with the regional office of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) over the denial of certificate to Kathakali on grounds of nudity.
The Film Employees’ Federation of Kerala (FEFKA), a body of Malayalam film directors and technicians, staged a dharna on Monday in front of CBFC’s regional office. FEFKA general secretary and B Unnikrishnan said the censor board was indulging in politics and added that they would move the high court against the board’s decision. “The CBFC is treating filmmakers as if we have committed a grave sin,” he said.
The two-hour film on the life of a Kathakali artiste is directed by Sijo Kannanaikkal. Recently, the CBFC asked for three cuts to be “sanctioned for unrestricted public exhibition”.
The board wants the removal of a scene in which the protagonist Dasan is undressed and beaten up and another towards the end in which Dasan removes the Kathakali attire and walks towards the Bharathapuzha river. It also wants the cuss words removed.
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Young filmmaker Sijo is of the view that the scenes in question were the soul of the movie and added that the CBFC was infringing upon creative freedom. “What would be left in the film if the climax is removed,” he asked.
CBFC regional officer Dr A Prathibha has called the protest a publicity stunt. Stating that the director has not replied to the board’s notice, she said the filmmakers were protesting without knowing the regulations.