Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie adaptation of the first part of James’s best-selling erotic trilogy, will not be opening in India on February 13. Scheduled to be released ahead of Valentine’s Day, the movie directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson has not been able to get a censor screening date from the Mumbai office of the Central Board of Film Certification. If the movie’s international distributor, NBCUniversal, gets a date later in the week, there is a likelihood that the movie will arrive on February 20.
NBCUniversal, which has been marketing Fifty Shades internationally as a “date movie”, declined to confirm the story or offer comment. A source at the CBFC confirmed on the condition of anonymity that the movie hasn’t yet been submitted for censorship, making it impossible to stick to the original release schedule. The three other movies that will open on the date are the Hindi films Roy and MSG The Messenger and the Hollywood romantic comedy Love, Rosie.
Fifty Shades of Grey is a Mills and Boon-style romance with lashings of sadomasochism and bondage behaviour. It's a love-at-first-sight romance between the wide-eyed and virginal Anastasia Steele (played in the movie by Dakota Johnson) and the impossibly handsome millionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan), but with a twist. He is a BDSM devotee who has a “Red Room” where he stores his whips and nipple clamps. Will Anastasia allow Christina to capture not just her heart, but also her body?
The answer to that question is provided through several sexual encounters, graphically described in the books and also, it appears, on the screen. Fifty Shades of Grey reportedly contains 20 minutes of sex scenes over its 100-minute duration. The movie has earned the equivalent of the Adults only certificate in several territories, and Malaysia has already banned it.
The chances of Fifty Shades of Grey making it untouched to Indian theatres have been highly unlikely since the first trailer emerged a few months ago. Studios usually pre-censor films with graphic content, especially of a sexual nature. For instance, David Fincher’s Gone Girl was released last year by Fox Star Studios after the director supervised a version that snipped out bits that could have, in the CBFC’s eyes, been too lurid for Indians.
Should NBCUniversal take the pre-censorship route, and should the CBFC oblige the distributor with an Adults only certificate, it’s likely that the Fifty Shades of Grey that will be released here will be a milder and safer version of the original movie ‒ more M&B than S&M.
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