Movie censorship

Pahlaj Nihalani has left the building, but censorship of Indian movies hasn’t

Filmmakers will have to be continue to be vigilant against more insidious attacks on creative expression.

Pahlaj Nihalani is no longer the head of the Central Board of Film Certification, and already, the world seems to be a quieter place.

On Friday, Nihalani was sacked five months before his term was to end. He was replaced by Prasoon Joshi, the advertising personality, lyricist and writer. It is hard to pinpoint the exact decision that got the producer fired, but it seems likely that he ended up alienating even his own Sangh-sympathising fellow travellers.

Nihalani’s list of transgressions is lengthy, but three stand out, and could be responsible for his exit. One is the centralisation of all decisions at the censor board, which is headquartered in Mumbai but has eight offices across India. Over the past few months, every file, whether significant or routine, seems to have been sent to Mumbai to get the boss’s clearance, causing to filmmakers to walk on eggshells till the very last minute before a movie’s due release. The censor board staff seemed to have decided that it was preferable to leave everything to their master rather than risk upsetting him by certifying a movie on their own.

The second factor for his dismissal could be the almost daily bad press in India and around the world that was generated by the censor board’s decisions. Foreign publications have been gleefully reporting the board’s irrational and arbitrary cuts, many of which have affected prestigious Hollywood productions and internationally acclaimed Indian films. These decisions have turned the world’s second-largest industry into a laughing stock, and reflect badly on the Bharatiya Janata Party as it seeks re-election in 2019. This was a relatively easy perception fix, compared to the intense criticism it has received about the recent spate of lynchings. By sacrificing Nihalani, at least one set of embarrassing headlines will disappear.

The third factor that possibly led to Nihalani’s ouster is the fact that he has alienated like-minded filmmakers. Even movies that were deemed to be nationalistic and supported the broad ideology of the ruling party were torched. A recent case in point is Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar, which, despite parroting the BJP’s line on the Emergency, was subjected to numerous cuts. The cuts were lifted only after Bhandarkar approached the revising committee. But he still had to make last-minute changes.

A power unto himself

Nihalani went far beyond the powers allotted to him by the Information and Broadcasting ministry. He wanted to censor films before they were screened at film festivals – which exceeds his brief – and was openly partisan towards certain filmmakers and actors on his Twitter account. He recently ordered that movies that depicted liquor and smoking would be given an Adults only certificate. Emboldened by the I&B ministry’s silence over his actions, Nihalani got bolder, even as he forced filmmakers towards greater timidity. Hubris usually gets its comeuppance.

The tasks before the ministry are manifold. It needs to consider the recommendations of the committee that was formed to revamp the Central Bureau of Film Certification in January. Headed by Shyam Benegal, the committee suggested, among other things, that the board move away from censoring films to merely certifying them. It recommended the introduction of an “Adult with caution” category over and above “Adults only”, and said that the board should refrain from banning films except in the most extreme circumstances.

The ministry also needs to assure filmmakers that Nihalani was only the most extreme manifestation of a larger problem: the state’s continuing interference in creative expression.

Though the Age of Pahlaj is over, the attitudes he so aggressively championed have not been obliterated. The country’s film industries, especially the most powerful one in Mumbai, have to ensure that they will not be co-opted into a more insidious form of cheerleading for the reigning ideology. The only positive thing about Pahlaj Nihalani was that he was a known enemy. The path from censorship to certification will not end with his departure, but will only get less obvious – and more challenging.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

What’s the difference between ‘a’ washing machine and a ‘great’ washing machine?

The right machine can save water, power consumption, time, energy and your clothes from damage.

In 2010, Hans Rosling, a Swedish statistician, convinced a room full of people that the washing machine was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution. In the TED talk delivered by him, he illuminates how the washing machine freed women from doing hours of labour intensive laundry, giving them the time to read books and eventually join the labour force. Rosling’s argument rings true even today as it is difficult to deny the significance of the washing machine in our everyday lives.

For many households, buying a washing machine is a sizable investment. Oddly, buyers underestimate the importance of the decision-making process while buying one and don’t research the purchase as much as they would for a television or refrigerator. Most buyers limit their buying criteria to type, size and price of the washing machine.

Visible technological advancements can be seen all around us, making it fair to expect a lot more from household appliances, especially washing machines. Here are a few features to expect and look out for before investing in a washing machine:

Cover your basics

Do you wash your towels every day? How frequently do you do your laundry? Are you okay with a bit of manual intervention during the wash cycle? These questions will help filter the basic type of washing machine you need. The semi-automatics require manual intervention to move clothes from the washing tub to the drying tub and are priced lower than a fully-automatic. A fully-automatic comes in two types: front load and top load. Front loading machines use less water by rotating the inner drum and using gravity to move the clothes through water.

Size matters

The size or the capacity of the machine is directly proportional to the consumption of electricity. The right machine capacity depends on the daily requirement of the household. For instance, for couples or individuals, a 6kg capacity would be adequate whereas a family of four might need an 8 kg or bigger capacity for their laundry needs. This is an important factor to consider since the wrong decision can consume an unnecessary amount of electricity.

Machine intelligence that helps save time

In situations when time works against you and your laundry, features of a well-designed washing machine can come to rescue. There are programmes for urgent laundry needs that provide clean laundry in a super quick 15 to 30 minutes’ cycle; a time delay feature that can assist you to start the laundry at a desired time etc. Many of these features dispel the notion that longer wash cycles mean cleaner clothes. In fact, some washing machines come with pre-activated wash cycles that offer shortest wash cycles across all programmes without compromising on cleanliness.

The green quotient

Despite the conveniences washing machines offer, many of them also consume a substantial amount of electricity and water. By paying close attention to performance features, it’s possible to find washing machines that use less water and energy. For example, there are machines which can adjust the levels of water used based on the size of the load. The reduced water usage, in turn, helps reduce the usage of electricity. Further, machines that promise a silent, no-vibration wash don’t just reduce noise – they are also more efficient as they are designed to work with less friction, thus reducing the energy consumed.

Customisable washing modes

Crushed dresses, out-of-shape shirts and shrunken sweaters are stuff of laundry nightmares. Most of us would rather take out the time to hand wash our expensive items of clothing rather than trusting the washing machine. To get the dirt out of clothes, washing machines use speed to first agitate the clothes and spin the water out of them, a process that takes a toll on the fabric. Fortunately, advanced machines come equipped with washing modes that control speed and water temperature depending on the fabric. While jeans and towels can endure a high-speed tumble and spin action, delicate fabrics like silk need a gentler wash at low speeds. Some machines also have a monsoon mode. This is an India specific mode that gives clothes a hot rinse and spin to reduce drying time during monsoons. A super clean mode will use hot water to clean the clothes deeply.

Washing machines have come a long way, from a wooden drum powered by motor to high-tech machines that come equipped with automatic washing modes. Bosch washing machines include all the above-mentioned features and provide damage free laundry in an energy efficient way. With 32 different washing modes, Bosch washing machines can create custom wash cycles for different types of laundry, be it lightly soiled linens, or stained woollens. The ActiveWater feature in Bosch washing machines senses the laundry load and optimises the usage of water and electricity. Its EcoSilentDrive motor draws energy from a permanent magnet, thereby saving energy and giving a silent wash. The fear of expensive clothes being wringed to shapelessness in a washing machine is a common one. The video below explains how Bosch’s unique VarioDrumTM technology achieves damage free laundry.

Play

To start your search for the perfect washing machine, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Bosch and not by the Scroll editorial team.