From protests to the age of cuts under Pahlaj Nihalani to social media trends, Bollywood movies and shows have often courted controversies. But were all the controversies and censorship justified?
More importantly, there were other scenes and dialogues that people should have objected to, and censored, but which became a part of mainstream cinema with surprising ease:
1. Veere Di Wedding vs. Sanju
When Sakshi (Swara Bhasker) used a vibrator in Veere Di Wedding, the scene was called out on Twitter platforms. It soon became apparent that the controversy was planned because the tweets were identical to each other.
But in Sanju, there was not even a hint of controversy when Sanju (Ranbir Kapoor) declares the number of women he has slept with, dismisses prostitutes, and even rounds up the figure as if it’s a score on a paper.
Men can have sexual desires, act on them, and be proud of them. Women, can not even pleasure themselves!
2. A Suitable Boy vs. Ishq, Kambakkht Ishq, and many others.
A consensual kissing scene in front of a temple in A Suitable Boy sparked outrage on social media, with claims of #LoveJihad trending. Eventually, an FIR was also filed against Netflix.
पुलिस अधिकारी परीक्षण कर बताएंगे कि संबंधित #ओटीटी_प्लेटफार्म और फ़िल्म के निर्माता निर्देशक पर धार्मिक भावनाएं आहत करने के लिए क्या कानूनी कार्रवाई की जा सकती है।@BJP4India @BJP4MP @DGP_MP @mohdept @BJYM— Dr Narottam Mishra (@drnarottammisra) November 22, 2020
But men forcibly kissing women is almost a tradition in Bollywood movies. Remember Ishq, Kambakkhat Ishq, Housefull 4, and many other films?
We literally have temples that promote sexual activity. And yet, consensual kissing hurts our sentiments, but assault is just a running gag.
3. Fire vs. 3 Idiots
Mira Nair’s Fire was met with protests by Shiv Sena party members, who tore down the movie posters, smashed theatre windows, and threatened theatre managers when the film was released.
All this furor over the depiction of two women loving each other.
But Chatur’s (Omi Vaidya) speech from 3 Idiots, where he unknowingly turns rape into a joke, is still considered one of the funniest moments from Bollywood.
4. Hasmukh vs. Rangeela Raja
A case was filed against Netflix’s Hasmukh, asking for a ban on the series, for allegedly portraying lawyers in the ‘wrong’ light. The Delhi HC ruled in favour of Hasmukh and denied the ban.
But there was no complaint when Rangeela Raja (a movie produced by the man famous for censorship, Pahlaj Nihalani) indulged in a clear case of victim-blaming.
5. Lipstick Under My Burkha vs. Kya Kool Hain Hum
From former CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani denying certification to the film to Muslim Leaders seeking a ban, Lipstick Under My Burkha ran into multiple courtesies before its release. The central ‘issue’ with the international award-winning film appeared to be the depiction of female desire. Or as listed in the CBFC order, the film was ‘lady-oriented’.
“Lipstick Under My Burkha”,an award winning film directed by Alankrita Shrivastav refused a Certificate for these unfathomable reasons 👇 😠 pic.twitter.com/QZwi3yhTCn— Renuka Shahane (@renukash) February 23, 2017
But Kya Kool Hai Hum, which talked about the male desire by overtly sexualizing women, was not only allowed to release but also included the following dialogue (one of the many problematic things about the movie) that called same-sex relations a problem.
Just FYI, cisgender men are not the only ones to have desires.
6. Dum Laga Ke Haisha vs. Kal Ho Naa Ho
Reportedly, CBFC had the word lesbian muted from the film Dum Laga Ke Haisha.
Came to know through news papers & If it’s true then muting”Lesbian”in a film is shameful.I condemn it.#freedomofexpression— Ashoke Pandit (@ashokepandit) March 3, 2015
Lesbian ko lesbian nahi bologey? Since when is it a bad word? "@HuffPostIndia: Censors mute out 'lesbian' in Dum Laga Ke Haisha"— Rupika V (@Rupika_V) March 3, 2015
But Kanta Ben’s reaction, a clear attack on same-sex relations, was included in Kal Ho Naa Ho. Along with Aman’s (Shah Rukh Khan) misogynistic advice, “6 din, ladki in“.
7. Un-freedom vs. Badrinath Ki Dulhania
Un-freedom, which showed a lesbian relationship, was altogether banned from release in India. The film was later released on Netflix.
But Badrinath Ki Dulhania was allowed to keep a scene that makes fun of sexual assault on men.
8. Angry Indian Goddesses vs. Masti and its sequels
CBFC asked for 17 cuts from the film Angry Indian Goddesses, which reportedly included muting words like ‘sarkar’, ‘adivasi’, ‘lunch’ and ‘Indian figure’.
At the same time, Masti, and its sequels, which clearly promote infidelity, were allowed to release with misogynistic dialogues like the ones listed here:
Great Grand Masti:
9. Udta Punjab vs. Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge
CBFC asked for over 84 cuts Udta Punjab, along with the removal of the word Punjab from the title, because it affected the ‘perception’ of the state.
But, in DDLJ, Raj harassing Simran and forcing himself on her lap did not affect the perception of Indians? Or men, in general?
10. Tandav Vs. Housefull 4
Amazon Prime Video’s Tandav was mired in controversy after one of the characters dressed as Lord Shivan, talked about azaadi during a play set in a college in the series.
The petitioners’ lawyers persuaded the bench for interim protection by referring to similar orders granted in ‘Arnab Goswami’ & ‘Amish Devgan’ cases.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 27, 2021
Bench was not inclined to grant the prayer.
Bench also orally remarked during hearing that religious sentiments cannot be hurt.
We just want to share a quick update with everybody. We are in further engagement with the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to resolve the concerns that have been raised. We value your continued patience and support, and should have a solution shortly. https://t.co/Yp8kogTlvs— ali abbas zafar (@aliabbaszafar) January 18, 2021
But the following dialogue is just one of the many that played without censorship during the theatrical release of Housefull 4.
11. Bhoot Police vs. Mastizaade
Even before the release of its trailer, Saif Ali Khan starter Bhoot Police came under Twitterati’s scanner for allegedly hurting religious sentiments through its poster.
Don’t fear the paranormal and feel ‘Saif’ with VIBHOOTI. #BhootPolice. Coming soon on #DisneyPlusHotstarMultiplex #SaifAliKhan @arjunk26 @Asli_Jacqueline @yamigautam @jaavedjaaferi @RameshTaurani #PavanKirpalani #JayaTaurani @tipsofficial #12thStreetEntertainment #BhootPolice pic.twitter.com/YHTjhzLMkE— Disney+ Hotstar (@DisneyPlusHS) July 5, 2021
Bollywood only know how to mock #Hindus why not #SaifAliKhan present a peer fakir in this poster..?#ArjunKapoor #BhootPolice #BoycottBollywood#BoycottHotstar @sambitswaraj @KapilMishra_IND pic.twitter.com/wDyU53qgLe— Swami Anand Swaroop (@SwamiAnand3) July 5, 2021
People are asking why not Mullah for #BhootPolice, the reason is simple, Hindu Sadhus and Brahmins were the main targets of the arab invaders. The same goes here. #SaifAliKhan pic.twitter.com/GUbF2F5ZLg— Rudrii (@Rudrii2) July 5, 2021
But the following poster of Mastizaade was not clearly hurting nobody.
These are but a handful of examples that show the clear hypocrisy when it comes to taking offense. It’s high time we do better!