#Sanskari James Bond: Was The Censor Board Right in Cutting Explicit Scenes in Spectre?

#Sanskari James Bond: Was The Censor Board Right in Cutting Explicit Scenes in Spectre?

The name is Bond…Sanskari Bond! This is certainly a sign of things to come, if Pahlaj Nihalani and his Censor Board had their way. The Indian censor board is notorious for its aversion to kisses and verbal swear words. From a time when the 007 franchise was created, James Bond has been associated with bedroom scenes and passionate clinches, not to mention colourful language. But blue eyed Daniel Craig’s latest Bond flick Spectre lost its colour. “Bond” and gagged, the eternal spy had to forgo his suave ways thanks to a censorious mentality whereby CBFC/Central Board of Film Certification cut 4 scenes- 2 verbal and 2 visual before certifying Spectre as U/A. Verbal cuts were swear words while Daniel Craig’s kissing scenes with his co-stars have also been cut by half. Is cinema in India headed for dark days? Or is there a bright ray of hope somewhere? Let us train our lenses on the issues involved and come up with a (hopefully) happy ending.

Censor Board is Right

1. CBFC is trying to protect people - Censorship prevents people’s minds from being corrupted and shields younger persons from being exposed to violence and explicit scenes.

2. Conflicts among communities is prevented through censorship - Censorship of material deemed insulting to women or moral values can create tensions in communities. By cutting the scenes, the censor board is protecting the peace of society.

3. Preventing imitation - Showing people engaged in activities such as swearing encourages people to emulate the silver screen hero. People sometimes get so enamoured that they end to copy even the most dangerous stunts shown in movies. It is important to deter people from engaging in verbally abusive behaviour by censoring such scenes in movies and preventing them from being valued in popular culture.

4. Censorship also protects privacy - Private likes and dislikes dictate what is acceptable and unacceptable. One man’s pill may be another man’s poison! So, expecting everyone to conform to a standard and not giving people the freedom to be different from the crowd and retain their privacy could be problematic. In this context, censorship ensures that people do not lose their right to privacy.

5. Bad cultural influences from foreign shores must be stemmed - Apart from the fact that abusive scenes can impact and offend people, they can also create and spread the bad influence of foreign cultures. If India has to protect her rich cultural heritage and tradition, a line needs to be drawn somewhere regarding what is acceptable and what is not.

6. It restrains violence and moral vulgarity - Efforts have been made by the Censor board to conform to and respect the moral sensibilities of people. It also prevents people from being exposed to discriminatory swear words or abuses. Sensitive issues like racism and violence must be regulated to ensure that peace in society is not disrupted.

7. Prevents pollution of young minds - Censorship limits the exposure of the youth to violence and vulgarity. Otherwise, such scenes can have a massive impact on the psyche of the individual. Glorification of violence can motivate people to commit crimes and make immoral acts heroic. This has been avoided by preventing obscenity from being displayed in the movie through the cuts made by the Censor Board.

8. Promoting respect in society: Society can only function within parameters of peace and decency if mass media stays within certain acceptable boundaries. Cancelling the explicit scenes was a good step forward to promote respect in society, especially towards women and good code of conduct.

9. Movies must be stopped from spreading the wrong message - Youth is susceptible to influences and it is imperative that movies are not used as a medium for spreading foreign culture and harming the indigenous traditions and mores of the nation. The Censor Board has taken a step in the right direction by making the cuts. Movies should not become tools to promote violence and obscenity in any way.

Censor Board is Wrong

1. Is there a limit to censorship?- The Censor board decided that excessively long kissing scenes were unacceptable. Defining what is acceptable and unacceptable is largely a matter of personal choice. How can the Censor Board alone decide what will or will not hurt the sentiments of moviegoers? Should the opinion of a few people be allowed to colour that of many? Consider that the world Bombay was muted from a song “Sorry” when it was aired on television in February because it was alleged to have colonial overtones. The Censor Board had earlier even identified 28 bad words - 15 Hindi and 13 English- whereby even adult films were barred from profanity. Ban was revoked later but much damage has been done by censoring scenes which are considered “unacceptable”

2. People have the right to choose: Viewers have the right to choose what they wish to see and what they consider acceptable. If a film goer is choosing to go in for a Bond movie based on its tone and content, it is the right of that person to be able to watch whatever they choose to. The Censor Board is limiting the personal freedom of people and their right to make a choice. By cutting the scenes, many of which have been retained in conservative countries like Pakistan and Sri Lanka, India is sending out the wrong message to its citizens regarding personal freedom and liberty.

3. CBFC only certifies, not censors: Censor Board only has the right to certify and films and not cut out large chunks of the scenes in the movie. In the worlds of Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Rajvardhan Singh Rathore, the role of the CBFC is to “certify and not censor.”

4. Why should intelligent audiences be spoon-fed?- Censor Board is being unduly narrow minded and discriminatory by cancelling the scenes. People have a distinct idea of how to distinguish right from wrong and they are aware that Bond movies are merely glamorous depictions, and not reality. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but as they say in showbiz…the show must go on. Cinema, by definition, seeks to capture different themes and interest viewers through fantasy and fiction. It is not a commentary or exhortation to behave in a certain manner or a license to kill!

5. Moral policing will only encourage dissidents: Cutting scenes from movies on account of vulgarity and abusiveness will not serve its purpose. The more you bar people from doing something, the more likely it is that they will gravitate towards it. After all, the forbidden fruit is the sweetest. If the culture police decides to limit personal freedom, more people will raise their voices against it and protest the limits placed on their personal freedom.

6. Trying to impose moral codes in a Bond movie is ludicrous: James Bond is known for his competence with guns and girls. The whole idea is to create the life of a glamorous spy far removed from real life. Even if life imitates art, why would discerning audiences fail to conclude that fantasy and reality do not mix?

7. Is the Censor Board being policed? : Previous CBFC head Leela Samson and more than half of the board earlier resigned citing coercion and corruption. Censor Board member Ashoke Pandit said he was sidelined in the process of censoring Spectre, though he protested against the cuts. A deeper question arises about whether the Censor Board is being controlled unfairly to create a socially conservative society.

8. Censorship limits vital information - Violence and explicit influences will not go away by cutting a few scenes from a movie. Moreover, censorship prevents society from exploring risqué themes.

9. Are we promoting a dictatorship?: Freedom of expression, if compromised, has been used by dictators to control society. India is a democracy. This means people have the right to personal freedom and to choose. Making the choice is their prerogative.


Censorship is a double edged sword- it can work well if used properly. Complete lack of censorship is not possible. Censorship may be a valuable tool for regulating society, but it can also be misused. The Censor Board should define limits to prevent over-regulating the message sent out by movies. A common ground or meeting point must be established between the liberals and conservatives for society and mass media to maintain its balance. Broadcasting only a particular point of view stifles the right of people to know and to make choices. Ultimately, the critics and supporters need to debate about what is best for the good of the majority in a way that does not curtail personal freedom. Without this, Indian cinema goers will be denied their right to choose what they want to watch and what they do not. It will also create an atmosphere where cinema will lose its creativity, because there may be censorship in movies, but there are no limits to the human imagination!
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  • RE: #Sanskari James Bond: Was The Censor Board Right in Cutting Explicit Scenes in Spectre? -Deepa Kaushik (11/30/15)
  • ectre?
    Censor Board should not be there just to certify, but they should have the authority to edit the compromising and improper content before getting launched for the public view. With this view point, cutting the explicit scenes is all good before giving it out for the public opinion.

    The movie James Bond reflects the culture where the movie has originated. The movie is not incorrect as per its creation and expression of its culture. The western culture takes many things and situations differently when compared to our Indian traditions and customs. We cannot expect them to be restricted with narrow mind-set when it comes to intimate scenes and portrayal of physical relationship.

    When we try to launch the western movies on Indian platform, we should either have a broad mind-set for our people to accept the things as it is portrayed in the original film, otherwise we should avoid getting these type of movies on Indian stage. Getting such movies and cutting and editing many sections in a movie almost ends the essence and enthusiasm for the movie. The actors and the unit behind the featuring of the film could not get the original reaction of the audience. This makes the movie and the film-makers into a handicapped situation where the movie turns out to be much different than its original preview.

    It is understandable that Indian society and the mentality of an average Indian citizen is not all that broad enough to accept western culture in its entirety. Showcasing such films in India would definitely pollute the young minds. If our censor board is actually so much focussed for our young generation, they should ideally cut-down many song sequence and scenes which gets telecast in almost every other Indian movie. We should not think of featuring the movies like James Bond on Indian track. Precisely, there is nothing good in disturbing the originality of any movie to make it a Sanskari James Bond.