India: Board censors James Bond kissing scenes

25 November 2015

The Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has ordered that all kissing scenes in the new James Bond film, ‘Spectre,’ need to be shortened by 50 per cent for its national screenings. Censors have ordered cuts to four kissing scenes between Daniel Craig and the two female leads, Léa Seydoux and Monica Bellucci. 

‘Spectre’ wasn’t the only film to be ordered to shorten “lengthy” kissing scenes. The CBFC also ordered filmmaker Imtiaz Ali to shorten a kissing scene between the movie’s two leads in his upcoming film, ‘Tamasha,’ Hindustan Times reported.

Ali questions why films in cinemas are getting this type of treatment, when the same kind of scenes that are being ordered to be cut or reduced can easily be seen in other media, such as online or on TV.

“Why are movies the only ones that are being censored so severely? The same audience, which watches movies, is also consuming the same kind of things that you [CBFC] are trying to ban in movies, in other ways,” he said.
Growing criticism
This current CBFC order has contributed to the growing criticism of the board and its new chair, Pahlaj Nihalani, who was appointed in late January 2015 when the board was rebuilt after its chair at the time and more than half of the board resigned.

The Guardian reported that one CBFC board member, Ashoke Pandit, was “side-lined from the decision-making process” and has criticised the cuts, questioning Nahalani’s close ties to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata party, calling him a “stooge” for current prime minister Narendra Modi.

Pandit tweeted: “Pahlaj Nihalani has always functioned on his own accord and I don’t subscribe to his curtailing of creative rights.”

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, India’s minister of state for information and broadcasting, has joined in the criticism and told The Indian Express:

“People are mature enough to decide what to watch and what not to and the job of the board is certification. CBFC’s main role is certification and not censorship.”

Rathore describes the CBFC as an “autonomous body” that the government cannot interfere with; however, he said there is hope for the future of censorship in India as a new cinematography act is in the works.

“We are also in the process of making censorship easier and more transparent for certification to ensure [the] rights of the filmmaker. And gradually we will make the entire process online, say in the next five years,” Rathore said.

Twitter hashtag #SanskariJamesBond has been trending online with users posting satirical memes calling attention to the cut version. ‘Spectre’ opened in Indian cinemas on 20 November 2015 and is rated U/A – parental discretion for children under 12.

» Hindustan Times – 23 November 2015:
Why are only films censored so severely? Imtiaz Ali

» The Indian Express – 21 November 2015:
CBFC should restrict itself to giving certification

» The Guardian – 19 November 2015:
Bond and gagged: Spectre’s kissing scenes censored by Indian film certification board

» Variety – 18 November 2015:
Sorry, James – India Censors Long Kiss in ‘Spectre’

» The Guardian – 21 January 2015:
India’s censorship board in disarray amid claims of political interference

Related information

» – 7 April 2015:
India: ‘Un-Freedom’ movie banned by censorship board

» – 14 February 2015:
India: Rift in censor board over list of ‘banned words’

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