Ghanchakkar versus Raanjhanaa: Is our censor board confused?

Raanjhanaa is banned over an inapt image of a Muslim girl but what about movies that show sexually explicit scenes?

Nida Ameen July 13, 2013
It’s not every day that we, journalists, get enough time to spare for a day out at the movies. So, when I finally got the opportunity to watch Ghanchakkar (not really top on my list) with a group of friends, there existed a moment of sheer excitement, more so because after weeks of working tirelessly, I could just relax on the business-class lookalike luxury chairs at Cinepax’s Gold Screen hall and enjoy a movie to its fullest.

Now, for those of you who haven’t watched the movie yet, Ghanchakkar is a far cry from Bollywood’s masala, borrowed-from-the-south potboilers like Dabangg and Rowdy Rathore. Rather, it is one of those atypical directorial ventures that have an intriguing concept but fall short of maintaining it to the Hollywood level.

Ghanchakkar is basically about Sanju (Emraan Hashmi), a couch potato who relies heavily on the income from his last robbery and his blabbermouth, style-struck wife Neetu (Vidya Balan). They seem to be content with their married life, squabbling over food and the regular saas-bahu issues, until two relatively shady goons offer Sanju a deal of INR10 million for breaking into a safe at a bank. After a successful heist, the trio splits up giving ‘safe-cracker’ the responsibility to hide the cash. After three months and an unmentioned accident, Sanju is left clueless as a result of amnesia and the rest of the movie is an endless search for the loot money.


In an attempt to create an unpredictable mystery amidst an environment of dark comedy, the movie seems like an utter drag by the second half with only a few half-baked funny moments. Although it did manage to entertain me to a certain extent, it was less than halfway through the movie that I was left kind of bewildered over Pakistani censor board’s editing skills and its rather hypocritical selection of movies. There were a few ‘sexually explicit’ scenes that left many feeling a little more than just uncomfortable.



In a recent turn of events, the Central Board of Film Censors banned the screening of Raanjhanaa because it presents ‘an inapt image of a Muslim girl’. Thanks to the piracy-driven cable network, I managed to watch Raanjhanaa over a late night dinner and that is probably why I was left surprised while I was watching Ghanchakar and was encouraged to make a comparison.

Yes, Raanjhanaa is the love-knows-no-boundaries, inter-religious, whimsical love story but with a slightly out of place political twist. The movie revolves on a Banarsi roadside romeo Kundan’s (Dhanush) continuous struggle to win a Muslim girl Zoya’s (Sonam Kapoor) heart.

A story set up alongside a number of supporting characters and script variations, Raanjhanaa is a good story of love, passion and greed. Yes, it could have been great if only it kept its tone neutral and did not confuse audiences with the political aspect.


Agreeably, Raanjhanaa contradicts with Islamic values, as a Muslim girl is never to associate with a Hindu guy, at least on screen even if exceptions exist in reality. But then isn’t everything related to love or having an affair against Islamic values and don’t the awkwardly explicit ‘bedding’ scenes in Ghanchakkar deserve to be reviewed and edited?

Clearly, the censor board’s editing preferences depend more on religious appropriateness yet Ghanchakkar was left more or less uncensored in the light of so-called moderate enlightenment that definitely does not gel with ‘our values’.



Word has it that even Bhaag Milkha Bhaag and Chennai Express will be banned over Eid. While obviously Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’s fate was lost over the apparent partition subject, the intensity of which will only be revealed once the movie is released but what makes Chennai Express so unsuitable for Muslim audience? Can it then be said that the Central Board of Film Censors fears some competition as Main Hoon Shahid Afridi is also scheduled to release on Eid?

What needs to be understood is that a few screens in our country is not likely to damage a Bollywood film’s success and considering that our audience is increasingly relying on cinema for entertainment, Main Hoon Shahid Afridi will receive its due share of attention given the popularity of its name. The rest will only depend on the storyline and performances and not because the audience attention was divided.

Surprisingly, even Main Hoon Shahid Afridi has Mahnoor Baloch dancing in a rather skimpy outfit and may I point out this too, is inappropriate thing for a Muslim girl to do.

Conclusively, the censor board is evidently confused and relatively biased over film selections; it clearly needs to reconsider its editing guidelines.

Read more by Nida here
Nida Ameen A sub-editor at The Express Tribune’s Life & Style desk. She holds a Master's degree in Global Media and Communications from University of Warwick.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Parvez | 8 years ago | Reply @Np: What actually surprised and baffled me was how an educated young mind could call certain scenes from Ghanchakkar ' sexually explicit '..........why such a narrow view ? Of course she has the right to her opinion, I just hope she understands that a little tolerance goes a long way.
Np | 8 years ago | Reply @Parvez: I share your view that neither movie should be censored and the author has the opposite view that if Raanjhana was censored, then Ghanchakkar also should have been censored. Both IEEE are internally consistent though I agree with your and not with that of author's.
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