NRG’s film on caste divides told to bleep out ‘achhoot’

A film that explores universality of discrimination by showcasing racism in Australia and caste bias in India had to contend with removing the word achhoot (untouchable) among other things to get a clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification.

“It is strange that the Censor Board would want a film that explores discrimination including caste discrimination to bleep the word ‘achhoot’ in the movie. The options were to bleep the word out, remove it or replace it with Dalit,” said Girish Makwana, director, writer and music producer of the movie ‘The Colour of Darkness’.

The film is set in the backdrop of racist attacks on Indian students in Melbourne in 2010. That was not the end of Censor Board’s problem with the Non Resident Gujarati’s movie. The Censor Board also wanted a dialogue in the movie ‘India is the most racist country in the world’ to be altered. “They wanted the word ‘most’ removed,” said Makwana.

His movie which was scheduled for a May release in India had to be postponed after the Censor Board did not agree with some of the translations of the Gujarati dialogues. The movie is now slated for release on October 13 in India.

A two-minute song sequence that also features a love-making scene meant that the movie was given an ‘adult’ rating. “I personally don’t care whether the movie gets an A certificate or an U/A certificate. But what surprises me is that movies with far more risque dialogues and scenes end up getting a U certificate,” said Makwana.

He said he was also surprised by the Censor Board’s insistence that the word ‘achhoot’ be removed or bleeped. “The fact is that untouchability (achhoot) is a part of our history and is still prevalent and it seems strange that a movie which explores caste discrimination has been asked to bleep the word. I am only showing what exists,” said Makwana.

He said it is only in India that Censor Board would take exception to historical facts. “In the West, if you make a movie on slavery or holocaust, no one will expect you to sugarcoat stuff with ‘polite’ words,” said Makwana.

The filmmaker said the story was a project for his Masters degree in film-making. Makwana who is also into music production, had his friends chip in to help him make his movie.


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