Chennai: The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has refused to certify the Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes, saying it glorified “the subject of gay and homosexual relationship” and portrayed the Hindu religion in a derogatory manner by showing Hanuman “in poor light as gay”. It also objected to the portrayal of a Muslim woman masturbating.
The move came days after the CBFC refused to clear the film Lipstick Under My Burkha as the “story is lady-oriented”. The refusal to certify Ka Bodyscapes came from the board’s Second Revising Committee in Thiruvanthapuram. The board’s letter to filmmaker Jayan Cherian was signed by the regional officer Prathiba A.
Cherian said the move went against the Kerala High Court order to certify the film with recommended changes. “The film was first submitted to the CBFC in Thiruvanthapuram in April last year, but they refused to certify it, as did the Revising Committee in Chennai,” Cherian said.
“I then approached the High Court, where the judge asked the CBFC to certify the film in 30 days. However, the CBFC chose to ignore the judgment and filed an appeal, stating that the case should have been addressed by a bench with more than one judge. In December 2016, the two-judge bench dismissed that appeal and asked them to certify the film in 90 days. But that too was overlooked by the CBFC,” the filmmaker said.
“The Second Revising Committee, headed by CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani, again refused the film a certification,” he said. Nihalani was unavailable for comment.
Cherian said the film, that has been selected at several festivals, was denied permission to be screened after intervention from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. “For instance, screening at the Kerala Film Festival was cancelled at the last moment under pressure from the ministry,” Cherian added.
The film, Cherian said, revolves around a gay artist battling censorship against his work. “The artwork in his studio depicts the history of gay art, including nude works by noted artists from across the world. But what the CBFC sees and also objects to is the nudity in those paintings,” he said.
The New York-based filmmaker added that in defiance of the High Court judgment, the members, with the exception of Nihalani, did not identify themselves during a Mumbai screening on February 17.
Cherian said the committee asked him to approach the apex court if he did not accept their decision. “The court case can take ages. It’s already been a year since the film was completed. How can the CBFC be allowed to take such arbitrary decisions?” he said.