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Indian censor who refused to classify gay film stood down

Indian censor who refused to classify gay film stood down

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The head of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) who refused to classify a gay film has been sacked from the role.

Pahlaj Nihalani was the government appointed chairperson of the CBFC until a recent board meeting. At the July meeting the CBFC board decided to oust him.

His ongoing refusal to classify Ka Bodyscapes – a film which explores homosexuality and religion – was believed to be one of the main reasons for the move.

Despite an order from the Kerala High Court to classify the film, Nihalani refused to do so. He was found in contempt of court but the ruling did not seem to faze him according to a report in Mid-day.

The CBFC board rewatched Ka Bodyscapes in late July and decided Nihalani’s refusal to not certify the film was wrong.

‘We think Mr Nihalani is wrong in not certifying Ka Bodyscapes. Because of such narrow-minded views of social realities the CBFC is acquiring the reputation of being bigoted and homophobic,’ a CBFC board member told Bollywood Hungama.

‘As per the honourable court’s orders we saw Ka Bodyscapes again at Thiruvanthipuram on July 28. Most of us were of the opinion that the CBFC’s decision to ban the film is wrong,’ the CBFC board said.

‘We think the film deserves a release with film for its gay content and its alleged unacceptable remarks on religion.’

But Nihlani refused to agree with the rest of his board.

‘This is nothing but an attempt to let the world know how liberal we are. Some board members want to project themselves as the face of liberalism within the CBFC for their own advantages,’ he said.

Director’s fatwa

Ka Bodyscape’s director Jayan Cherian, has been very vocal about the censorship of his films.

But he now also has to worry about ongoing death threats over his work according to a report in the Deccan Chronicle.

One Facebook user even declared a ‘fatwa’ – a ruling in Islamic law – against him for making the Hindu figure, Lord Hanuman, gay in the movie.

‘Do not use religious figures just to prove some point. How easily communists use Hindu religious figures, right? Can they do the same with others?’ the user said.

Cherian said he is used to getting threats and has become desensitized to the threats.

‘I am getting a lot everyday, now it is normalised,’ he wrote on Facebook.