It is the blindfold to the directors vision and the red marker on the writers thoughts. A couple of days back as I was surfing though the books at Landmark I chanced upon an exhaustive collection of Sadat Hassan Manto’s Short Stories and It occurred to me how 100 years ago these stories were locked in a secret chamber underground far away from the reach of any civilian. These literary masterpieces were hidden from the fear of discovery .Manto’s works were condemned by society for being Explosive ,obscene and controversial. The Critics and moral police of that era termed his works as proof of an unstable mind. Some of his most popular stories like “Bu” Odour” and “Khol Do” were banned for being realistic portrayals of vulgarity . Manto was never recognized and praised for his genius in the era that he lived . Like Manto his contemporary and a Feminist Extraordinaire Ismat Chugtai too suffered the brunt for speaking her mind. Ismat Chugtai ‘s works gave a voice to those who were muted by society . Her works were revolutionary as a female talking about sexuality , liberty and expression was unseen during those turbulent times. One of my favorite Chugtai stories is “Lihaaf” which also happens to be one of her most celebrated stories of all time. However unsurprisingly this is also the story that publicly admonished her . When Lihaaf was published in a journal in Pakistan it caused outrage because of its sensitive content that talks about a lesbian relationship in a conservative muslim household. Furious letters were sent and a case was lodged in the Lahore High Court against Ismat Chugtai . Chugtai won the case however along with it society didn’t realized that she also won something else- Their Awakening. She was able to infuse a little ray of light in their narrow minds . To criticize her everyone has read Lihaaf and the story had not gone Untold. Today their literature is considered a masterpieces but they will never know that a the torn pages have finally reached the shelves within reach.
This is the thing about censorship …It is always in transition
17 years ago Raja Hindustani created a buzz with the rainy ..Tree ..Kissing sequence. A couple of years later came Ms.Sherawat and her “ Bheege Hoth” that had rickshawala’s watching all the 3 shows at Chandan Cinema going OO LA LA. Today in the 21st century OO LA LA has become the Mantra of every Film-maker and with Eena Meena and Deeka Shedding their clothes, inhibitions and all their morals ..That sequence in Raja Hindustani would seem passé’. As the past has proved – What we censor today will become the norm of tomorrow. Censorship cannot be imposed they have to come from within. By closing our eyes the truth will not vanish. Literature,Art and Cinema are mere reflections of what society is made of. The writer is penning his visions of the world he lives in and the film-maker is showing scenes from his reality. Fiction is merely an exaggerated reality.
By banning the telecast of “Dirty Picture” from television we are not making sure no-one is watching it . Instead we are only instigating people to watch it more closely and keenly when they do get hold of it . Our world in the realm of globalization is only coming closer together and the boundaries of the east and west are diminishing along with their concepts of right and wrong. Now a Hollywood movie has a Indian Hero and a Bollywood movie is shot completely in LA with nothing “Hindustani” in its story. A book like “Polyester Prince” that was banned from publication and distribution in India and Pakistan is not available in Bookshop but can be found with the street Bookwala’s at Juhu Circle. Censorship is slowly turning into a joke .
In our movies Who are we muting bad language and blurring cigarettes for ? . Can these censorboard people mute out the profanity and Maadarchod’s and BehenChods an average Indian is subjected to in just his daily commuting in BEST buses and local trains? Or can they blur out even half the amount of cigarettes that are lit at every street corner. As far as the argument that children get probed to smoking “”Kyuki Shah Rukh Khan Picchar Mein Smoke Karta Hain” . Aren’t we giving SRK too much uncalled importance in our lives?. A child watches his father smoking 24 hours for 365 days and SRK smoking for 3 hours in a year . It will only take a second to know who is the REAL Influencer.
God doesn’t impose his beliefs on us mere mortals so who are we to impose our beliefs and moral standards on a society. WE “The intellectually superior species” have the capability to govern what is right and wrong. Instead of one person taking decisions for a mass with different preferences we should invest in a society where we propagate and practice the philosophy “To each his own”. We live in this era where nothing can be shunned under the carpet and all we want is at our disposal. Our is an era of “Free Will”, “Liberated Minds”,” Expressionists” and “Thinkers” who cannot be tied under the shackles of restrictions and intellectual stagnation .
A censored society doesn’t create enriched pristine human beings instead it creates a desire to touch the untouched and know the unknown.