This is just something disturbing I noticed while [sleepily] watching Mohabbatein for the 150th time on SetMax/Sony some days ago. I was one of the few people fortunate enough to not have watched it in the theatre and thus, have not developed an intense dislike for it. Watching it in bits and pieces over the years, I still enjoy it whenever it comes on TV.
POINT IN MIND : I have ONLY seen the movie on TV.
This movie has this particular scene showing Shamita Shetty and Uday Chopra kissing, which in my opinion is no kiss, seriously. I have spotted couples more openly intimate in Connaught place/Khan Market, for heaven’s sake. The Censor Board also obviously agrees with me since this movie was given a ‘U’ rating in 2000 [over a decade ago]. Therefore, since 2000, I safely assumed that this particular movie is child-safe. And village safe. And “Indian culture” safe. And most importantly, TV – safe, for how else would I even know of the existence of this kiss? This is the year 2000.
Circa mid-2011, I am jerked out of my sleepy state when I see that the said kiss has been abruptly and rather terribly cut. Censored. Not shown. And it’s glaringly obvious that something has been edited. And that’s the disturbing bit. I am not even going to go into a principled argument on how a ‘U’ movie should be shown without cuts on TV because that is a much larger issue. This is a scene that was shown on TV earlier! So, what was fit for me to see at the age of ten is not fit when I am twenty one. Or rather, what was fit for families and kids in 2000 is suddenly not fit in 2011. Why is television suddenly moving backwards?
If media is a reflection of society, then we are in deep trouble indeed. And maybe I shouldn’t blame the TV channels for the editing since in 2011, all media content needs to be Muthalik/MNS/random moral police – safe as well. People with no work and a hunger for publicity and easy access to it through irresponsible media. Not just these people, many others who have suddenly realised that –
1. there is a way to get famous easily
2. tackling a real issue takes too much hard work and risk
3. its easy to bring up “bhartiya sanskaar” since any argument against that becomes “hurting the sentiment ji”
4. the Government is not going to take any harsh measures since everyone’s opinion must be respected in a democracy [apart from the liberal man’s opinion]
And therefore, while the world moves forward, socially, we move backward. We are slowly and steadily moving backwards to feudalism and the resultant patriarchy. While khap panchayats are an extreme example, editing out a kiss that was shown on TV previously is no less wrong. Or disturbing.
This may sound harsh and unacceptable in a “democracy” but I really think someone needs to take the whip and crack it. Simply turn a deaf ear to protests against ‘obscenity’ since people have no idea what obscenity really means. Get sensible people to censor films and TV, if censorship is deemed so essential. Stop this nonsensical censorship of a kiss – atleast don’t regress from existing standards, please! Let’s please remember, when we should respect ‘everyone’s’ opinion, the opinion of a liberal, open minded , progressive individual has to be respected as well. In conflicting opinions, it’s important to remember that upholding a Muthalik is curbing other freedoms of a lot of people and eventually reducing democracy and freedoms to a sham. We cannot have another MF Hussain. All this dogma and conservatism and theistic upholding of “Indian Culture” is only going to create uncritical, unthinking people who are afraid to challenge even that which instinctively feels wrong. Or a class of people which is indifferent to moral policing. And that will make us vulnerable to being taken over and ruled again. I know I sound very extreme. But one small thing leads to the next and like Ramjas debaters say, it’s a “slippery slope”
There’s so much more I could say. But I’ll leave it for later. Or everything will sound mixed up. Right now, I want that kiss back in Mohabbatein. Not because I enjoy watching it but because Aditya Chopra wanted to show it. And once upon a more sensible time, the censors accepted.