The Origin of Sin

DARING TO BARE: Pornstar Shakeela

The recommendation that was Vijay Anand's undoing originated with the CBFC's regional office at Thiruvananthapuram. And, according to A. Dhanasekharan, CBFC additional regional officer, it was born of sheer realism. "We didn't recommend screening of pornographic films, only those meant for adults. This is a practice followed in most western countries. We also recommended a new category of certification called m/a (matured adults),'' he says.

Not surprisingly, soft porn is big business in the Malayalam film industry. Of the 90-odd films released last year, at least one-third were those that celebrated the statuesque charms of stars such as Shakeela and Maria.

HOT STUFF: Pornography is big business in the Malayalam and Tamil film industries

Despite adhering to the CBFC guidelines, Dhanasekharan says by the time films get to theatres, they miraculously acquire obscene sequences that did not exist at the time of the screening. The Cinematograph Act, 1952, provides for uncensored prints to be seized though this has not happened even once in Kerala in the past five years. Yet, last year prints of 23 Tamil films were seized from various theatres in neighbouring Tamil Nadu for the same offence. "Because the enforcing agency is weak, we have started employing private detectives in metros to identify theatres showing uncensored films,'' says Dhanasekharan. The results have been better in Tamil Nadu.

It isn't just smut that Malayalam filmmakers succumb to. Sometimes it is also the whims of the CBFC. T.K. Rajeev Kumar, director of Sesham, remembers how he was forced by the CBFC to delete a vital opening sequence which showed a flash of nudity. "The most senior member in the regional CBFC panel objected to this scene though the two women said they found nothing objectionable,'' he says. And yet, complains Kumar, in the same society, a Malayalam satellite network shows films starring Shakeela at least thrice a week. "Heavens haven't fallen because of this,'' he adds.

-M.G. Radhakrishnan

Previous | Index