It is only natural that a film censorship board in a modern democracy should suffer from an identity crisis from time to time. It must not be easy for a bunch of creative and critical adults to take entirely seriously their job of weeding out from films and other forms of entertainment and information material that might do moral damage to other adults. So, from time to time these adults entrusted with this unfortunate missions have to give their harness bells a shake to let the rest of the adult world know that they exist. A panel set up by the Central information and broadcasting ministry to review the Cinematograph Act has recommended that lyrics of film songs should also be looked at by the censor board, and this should include other forms of broadcasting the songs and publicity versions. The conditions in which films are made, shown and disseminated have changed considerably since the act was first formed, which makes such amendments necessary.
If laws of censorship have to be adapted to the changing world and times, then any evolving democracy should be making these adaptations in the direction of greater independence and liberty for film-makers, rather than the other way round. Why songs have to be mentioned separately in the act when the whole film they are part of falls under its purview should puzzle all sensible people. Also, how bowdlerizing “item songs” — defined earlier this year, during a similar bout of officiousness, as “all those songs which are meant for adult consumption” — is going to halt the rise of sexual violence in the country seems not to have been thought through with any sort of rigour. The rigour, when it comes to thinking about sexual morality and justice, is channeled entirely into acts of suppression and repression, which happens to be a dangerously mindless way of tackling a complicated reality.