Bollywood’s Bajirao Mastani stuck in the Federal Censor Board

In Pakistan, currently three film censor boards are functional. To screen a film in civil administrated areas of Punjab and Sindh censor certificate from Punjab Borad of Film Certification (PBFC) and Sindh Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is required respectively. For all the rest of regions i.e. KPK, Balochistan, Federal Capital Islamabad as well as the cantonment areas of Sindh and Punjab censor certificacte from Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is required.

These three censor boards often became a point of debate due to their inconsistence decisions. Majority of the members of the PFBC and SBFC are former artists or cultural activist, whereas the CBFC has a majority of bureaucrats and retired security officials.

The recent example of inconsistent decision making from censor boards is regarding the Bollywood film Bajirao Mastani due to release on Friday 18th December 2015. It is based on the historical events of famous Marhatta ruler Bajirao and his wife Mastani (Mastani is considered as Muslim by few historians). The PBFC has issued the censor certificate without any objection, the SBFC has allowed the screening after cutting a merely 20 second sequence. However the film is stuck in CBFC who have objections on its screening.

Speaking to Express Tribune the chairman of CBFC has explained their twisted logic as follows.

Mobasher Hasan, chairman of the CBFC, told The Express Tribune the reason behind the decision. “Firstly, the film is in Hindi and our ordinance does not allow Hindi films to be screened,” he said. “Secondly, it is a historical drama that is indirectly against Islam and Muslims,” he further added.

Although it was expected that intimate scenes and certain action sequences might prompt such a decision, Hasan clarified this was not the case. “There are intimate scenes in the film but they were not a major concern for the panel,” he noted. While the film was rejected by a panel initially, local distributors have called for a full board review of the film, once again.

With only one day left in its release the film is expected to get a censor certificate from CBFC today after review from the full board. In case the film fails to get a censor certificate from CBFC, it will only be released in the civil administrated areas of Punjab and Sindh. However such inconsistent decision making from the three censor boards always raise questions on the code of censor followed by these boards.

Earlier this year a Pakistani film Swaarangi was banned by CBFC but passed the knives of PBFC and SBFC without any cuts. Similarly a Bollywood film Ragini MMS 2 in 2014 was passed by CBFC and SBFC but was banned by PBFC.


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Rashid Nazir Ali

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