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How many cuts make sex appropriate for adult viewing?

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar claimed the Central Board of Film Certification has asked for 12 cuts despite an 'A' certificate in his film, 'India Lockdown'

A file photo of film director Madhur Bhandarkar in Mumbai. CFBC has asked him to make further cuts to his upcoming film, ‘India Lockdown’.  (ANI)

The Central Board of Film Certification has asked Madhur Bhandarkar to revisit his upcoming project, 'India Lockdown'. Despite giving an ‘A’ certificate to this film, they're looking for 12 more cuts – 10 audio and 2 visual – before it can be good to go. 

The upcoming project revolves around four central characters and their journeys during the first covid-19 lockdown. Actor Shweta Basu Prasad's track in the film is about sex workers and highlights their plight during this phase. It is this track that has necessitated the cuts CBFC is asking for.

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All of this begs the question – what does it take for sex, violence, and realistic depictions of ‘bad’ reality to be considered okay for an adult to view?

“All these cuts are from the track that focuses on a sex worker's life in Kamathipura. The language, I'm told, is problematic,” Bhandarkar said, adding that "the language has been used to keep the story authentic and we are ready to accept an 'A' certificate. But removing so many words and important scenes will dilute the impact and essence of the plot. To retain the authenticity in the film, I had to keep these elements as a part of the narrative. We now plan to approach the revising committee," he said. 

The CBFC's certification guidelines do state that “scenes degrading or denigrating women in any manner are not presented”, and that “scenes involving sexual violence against women like attempt to rape, rape or any form of molestation or scenes of a similar nature are avoided, and if any such incidence is germane to the theme, they shall be reduced to the minimum and no details are shown.” Having said that, the CBFC adds that “films that meet the above – mentioned criteria but are considered unsuitable for exhibition to non-adults shall be certified for exhibition to adult audiences only.”

In Bhandarkar's case, the visual cuts involve a scene showing physical relations between a sex worker and her client. We don't yet know the nature of the dynamic here, but with regard to depicting complicated relationships and the autonomy of the body, one wonders how the lines between realism in art and censorship (seemingly to safeguard social conscience) are drawn.   

Prateik Babbar and Aahana Kumra are also a part of 'India Lockdown'.

(With inputs from ANI)

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