Our censorship problem gets complicated every time the certification details of a film are made public. What happened with Raees at the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is an ideal example of how things can never be as they seem; there’s a shadow to every highlight and the contrast between them reflects on the canvas.
The reasons highlighted in the CBFC preview of Raees were quite petty to begin with; Muslims being labelled as bootleggers and equating business to religion were some of their major concerns. And rightly so. After all, our nukes are unsafe because of Shah Rukh Khan’s one liners and the drive to ban wine shops in Karachi proved so successful that we decided to ban anything remotely associated with wine.
On the other hand, NASA recently revealed the discovery of seven habitable zones for life in outer space. The whole world is excited to be at the epoch of accessing new worlds and possibly new life but we’re stuck in a downward spiral. A year after lifting the ban on Youtube we had banned Indian films and the first Indian film that was likely to give us numbers was also banned because the custodians of our culture thought it would send out the wrong message.
This is a recipe for disaster and if the authorities do not realise the fallbacks of exercising protective cultural policy in a global village then we’ll be suffocating ourselves to death. The only concrete solution to end this chaos is a full fledged implementation of the rating system. It has revolutionised film censorship worldwide by offering Parental Guidance (PG) and other guidelines for people choosing to buy the ticket. This way the director’s vision doesn’t get compromised and the audience knows whether the film is suitable for them or not. Unfortunately the rating system can honestly and completely be implemented only if authorities on both sides of the border stop using ‘bans’ to gain political weightage. And we refuse to grow up…
Published in The Express Tribune, February 26th, 2017.