a lot of people look at Bollywood to retain the 'Indian' in their movies
Is the new era of Bollywood films now going to far with the way it portrays scenes of an intimate and sexual nature? Many films seem to be veering towards the Hollywood approach of sexual content.
Or are audiences finding this an acceptable format for Bollywood to adopt due to the influence of Hollywood, Satellite TV and the Internet in South Asia?
Does this mean Bollywood films are no longer watchable in the cinema by a family with children or in the family living rooms where such scenes are uncomfortable, often leading to an elder member of the family reaching for the remote control?
The Central Board of Film Certification otherwise known as the CBFC and more popularly the ‘Censor Board’ is the regulatory film and censorship board of India. It has the following ratings for Indian films.According to the CBFC website with regards to enforcement, it states the following.
- The Central Board of Film Certification is responsible mainly for certifying films. The enforcement of the penal provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 is with the State Governments /Union Territory Administrations, since exhibition of films is a State subject.
- The CBFC does not have any enforcement agency or manpower directly under its control. It has to depend on the local police force for enforcement of laws.
- There are various forms of violations which often go unchecked because there are no checks and no complaints from either the law enforcement agencies or members of the public.
This means the policing of this whole process is left to law and order enforcement agencies with no specialist skills or knowledge and also, rely on the public to report violations. In addition, the CBFC certification also requires translation to other film censor ratings abroad e.g. the UK and USA, where Bollywood films are very popular amongst cinema goers.
This process does not preclude people getting access to Bollywood movies and their content by other means. For example, the increase in online viewing, downloading and DVD’s (including pirate versions) is another source for movies to be watched or obtained.
Hence, highlighting the point that are Bollywood movies once known for their ‘family’ entertainment value now losing this quality? Or are the new wave of films now the way that Bollywood wants to reach bigger and more mainstream audiences?
Discussions and surveys on this subject have been interesting with views from some audiences becoming more tolerant of sexual scenes and others finding it harder and harder to watch movies with a family.
In the UK for example, a lot of people look at Bollywood to retain the ‘Indian’ in their movies, hence, preferring less obvious sexual content and a preservation of tradition and culture. With the view that if they want more sexual scenes they are available to them in Hollywood or British movies. Whilst others feel this is progress and is showing the maturity of Bollywood.
‘We have been brought up to believe that sex is dirty and as you grow up you find out that it is not and that it is wrong to think like that. We do need to move forward, we shouldn’t make [sex] such a big issue.’ – Indian females aged 25 – 44, Birmingham
As survey done by the BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) regarding Bollywood films and sex, found that many people of South Asian roots admit they are far more tolerant of sex scenes in Western films because the West was a much more ‘open society’ but they are more likely to view comparable scenes in an Bollywood film as requiring a higher certificate. This is mainly because they did not want their children to think it was acceptable behavior in South Asian society.
Also, of most concern to people was the potential embarrassment of watching these scenes in the presence of their parents or other elderly relatives. It was felt to be disrespectful and shameful to watch sex scenes in the presence of elders.
‘It would still be a problem if it appears in a Hollywood film but not that much because it is so common in these films but would be very distressing for me if the same scene appeared in a Bollywood film.’ – Indian male aged 45 – 65, London
Also noticed is a huge increase of online video clips such as on ‘YouTube’ of Bollywood film scenes showing kisses and sexual orientated scenes. Does this mean that Bollywood has to provide this type of content to feed this growing demand?
The desire of today’s Bollywood directors and producers to make hits and money at the box office has led to a shift in the style and content of Bollywood movies.
The introduction of more and more sexual content has led to many questions being asked of film-makers as to whether it is really needed to sensationalise their movies against the tradition and way of Indian life well known for its moral fibre and cultural strengths. Or is this no longer the case and that the new generations of Indians are supporting the change being witnessed in story lines and welcome the surge of sensual scenes on the screen.