Refusing to certify Malayalam filmmaker Jayan Cherian’s film, K A Bodyscapes, that deals with homosexuality and religion, has landed the board in trouble with the Kerala HC
Sanyukta Iyer and Avinash Lohana (MUMBAI MIRROR; July 14, 2017)

After recent skirmishes with Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar and the Amartya Sen documentary, the Central Board of Film Certification finds itself in another certification battle that has been raging for the most part of this year.

After the regional Examining Committee in Trivandrum and the Chennai-based regional Revising Committee denied censor certification to Jayan Cherian’s film, K A Bodyscapes, which reportedly explores themes of homosexuality and religion, the Malayalam filmmaker filed a petition in the Kerala High Court last year. The Court ordered the CBFC to step in to review the film and grant the certificate. “Ten-12 board members, led by Chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, watched the film on February 17 this year but refused to certify it, arguing that the movie ‘portrayed Hindu gods in an obscene light and had contents of nudity’. Pahlaj also suggested that the film should be banned,” Cherian told Mirror from New York, who went knocking on HC’s door again. He added, “A single bench of the High Court held that the movie has to be watched as a whole instead of refusing to give a certificate based on certain clips and parts. The judge also permitted the Board to modify or delete certain scenes if they find it objectionable but ruled against banning it altogether.”

After the court order, the CBFC took the matter in appeal to the Division Bench, which refused to interfere in the directions of the Single Bench, while also directing the CBFC to certify the film themselves instead of sending it to the Revising Committee (RC) since the film had been stuck for a long time. However, the review was carried out by the RC, which recommended against granting certification.

The development was followed by another petition for contempt against the CBFC officials as the Bench of Chief Justice Navniti Prasad and Justice Raja Vijayaraghavan observed that the RC reviewing K A Bodyscapes was in breach of the Court’s order. But last month, the Court granted CBFC an opportunity to purge the contempt by permitting the Board to review the film in a month, also directing that the Board bear the cost of examination.

On July 11, CBFC responded with a letter seeking two months’ extension to comply with Ka Bodyscapes’ contempt of court case due to “lack of funding to arrange the screening and the cost of bringing all the board members together.” At the time of going to the press, a disillusioned Cherian was unsure about when his film would get a viewing but promised to take the fight to the finish.