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9 Times the Central Board of Film Certification Needed to Censor Its Own Decisions

9 Times the Central Board of Film Certification Needed to Censor Its Own Decisions

From Udta Punjab to award-winning Hollywood film The Danish Girl, here are the movies that had the censor board seeing red.

Ever since the Indian Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) refused to certify the film Lipstick Under My Burkha thus denying it a theatrical release, it has found itself mired in controversy and criticism.

Defending its decision at the time, CBFC had noted, “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused.”

However, the film itself has been widely appreciated by critics and has been the darling of the film festival circuit, having won laurels such as the Spirit of Asia Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival and the Oxfam Award for Best Film on Gender Equality at the Mumbai Film Festival.

Most recently, it has also been chosen as one of the official Hollywood Foreign Press Association Screening entries at the International Film Festival of Los Angeles, thus making it eligible to be considered for the coveted Golden Globe awards.

Photo source: Facebook

With criticism mounting against CBFC, we look at the times the decisions made by the body were criticised by both the film industry and the audiences.

When Punjab couldn’t be part of Udta Punjab

Perhaps one of the most high profile and public stand-offs between the film industry and the censor board occurred during the release of Udta Punjab. Despite the fact that the film sent a strong anti-drugs message, the censor board demanded 94 cuts to the film for it to receive certification. Among the suggestions? The board wanted filmmakers to remove any mention of Punjab from the movie (even though the title probably gives away the location) and its cities. The strangest request of them all?

The board also had a problem with a dog in the film called Jacky Chain because the name resembled that of the Hollywood actor Jacky Chan.

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Hanuman Chalisa in Phillauri

Perhaps it should be a given that a movie that features a ghost who accidentally marries a human being should not be considered realistic. And yet, the film that stars Anushka Sharma got into trouble with the censor board when one of its characters chanted the Hanuman Chalisa to ward off a ghost. According to reports, the board had the filmmakers mute the sequence because they felt the comedic sequence would hurt religious sentiments.

And yes, it is a comedy about a ghost.

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Angry Indian Goddesses

The film, released in 2015, provides a hard-hitting look at the kind of sexual harassment women face in society. The censor board had the filmmakers make a number of cuts from the movie.

They also demanded that the filmmakers blur out the picture of Hindu goddess, Lakshmi from the opening credits and a picture of goddess Kali from one of the scenes.

Perhaps the movie ought to have been titled, Angry Indian Blurry Goddesses


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Sameer’s Mann Ki Baat

“Ek mann ki baat kahoon? Tum character accha bana lete ho!” (Can I tell you something from my heart? You are able to judge a person’s character well). At the outset, this line wouldn’t exactly offend anybody. But the CBFC still had the movie Sameer, directed by Dakxin Chhara, cut the line from its dialogue. The body’s justification? The radio show hosted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is called Mann Ki Baat.

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We are still scratching our heads on this one.


Phobia was a relatively small-budget, well-reviewed film starring the indie darling Radhika Apte. A psychological thriller, it had its audience on the edge of their seats. But it also probably confused quite a few of them when a part of its dialogue was muted.

And that’s because the censor board had the filmmakers mute the words, “screwed up“, that’s spoken by one of the characters in the movie.

Photo source: Facebook 

James Bond cannot kiss

Even one of the most famous spies in the history of cinema couldn’t escape the wrath of the board. Back in 2015, the board only gave the latest in the James Bond series, Spectre, a U/A certification once the film agreed to cut down the length of the scenes that featured the character kissing.

And the move ended up making international headlines at the time.


Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

Directed by Karan Johar, the movie attracted more than its fair share of controversy thanks to the casting of Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. But the film was also ordered to make a number of cuts by the censor board in order to get its certification. The board even had the filmmakers change dialogues.

One such change? The phrase ‘Kiska zyada hot hain’ (whose is hotter?) was changed to ‘Kaun zyada hot hain’ (who is hotter).

Photo source: Wikimedia 

Margarita With A Straw

The Kalki Koechelin-starrer Margarita With A Straw won high praise from both critics and the audiences for its sensitive portrayal of a woman living with a disability. However, the censor board wanted to cut a scene that had someone help the main character, who has cerebral palsy, use the toilet.

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As the filmmaker Shonali Bose, who fought the ruling, explained, “I told them this is reality, not titillation. My cousin sister suffers from cerebral palsy and when nobody else is around; her father has to help her go to the toilet.”

Photo source: Wikimedia

The Danish Girl

Oscar-winning film The Danish Girl tells the incredible true story of the first gender reassignment surgery. But that didn’t stop the board from barring the film being telecast on Indian television.

The move was criticised by many on social media who noted that this was a way of ignoring LGBTQ issues.

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