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India’s Central Board of Film Certification has postponed a ban on a list of “objectionable and abusive” words following an artistic backlash.
A list of 28 swearwords and phrases in both English and Hindi that the CBFC had planned to ban was recently leaked, prompting widespread scorn from the cinema industry. But the move has now been opposed by several members of the board, according to the Hindustan Times newspaper quoting a source.
In a statement Tuesday, CBFC CEO Shravan Kumar said that the board had decided that the matter “required further consultation with different sections of society before it is implemented.”
Alongside particular swearwords and phrases – including ‘fuck’ and ‘son of a bitch’ – the list included double entendres, and phrases that reference violence against women and glorify bloodshed. One talking point was the suggestion that filmmakers shouldn’t use the colonial name Bombay for the Bollywood capital Mumbai (its revised name since 1995). One of the most anticipated releases this year is Fox Star Studios’ Bombay Velvet from director Anurag Kashyap
The resulting backlash sparked a debate over artistic freedom and a string of tweets. “The words the censor board does not want you to hear, a.k.a words every kid already knows,” tweeted filmmaker Danish Aslam.
The list was reportedly sent to the censorship board’s regional officers by CBFC chairman and veteran Bollywood producer Pahlaj Nihalani, who was appointed after his predecessor Leela Samson and twelve board members resigned in January. They claimed government interference over the board’s functioning. Matters came to a head when the government reversed the board’s decision to ban the controversial film Messenger of God, which was recently released.
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