The Central Board of Film Certification has deleted scenes from YashRaj Films’ Befikre that show couples of the same sex kissing in the movie’s opening song Labon Ka Karobar. “Yes, we have removed the gay kiss from the first song in Befikre,” the board’s chief Pahlaj Nihalani told The Quint. “The whole song is about various couples of different ages kissing all over Paris. We felt the gay kiss would not be acceptable to all viewers.”
The video of the song, which was released months before the Ranveer Singh and Vani Kapoor starrer went to the theatres on December 9 and is available on YashRaj’s YouTube channel, shows several kissing couples, including two men and two women. The CBFC is believed to have discussed the cuts with Aditya Chopra, who did not object to it, according to The Quint report.
The decision has received varied reactions from industry personalities, including filmmaker Onir. “I really don’t know how Mr Pahlaj Nihalani defines the kisses as sexual and non-sexual and then proceeds to grant Befikre a ‘UA’ certification, because according to him the kisses are non-sexual, when in fact the couple is clearly in the mood for sex,” he said.
Actor and LGBT rights activist Celina Jaitley said that cutting the kissing scenes highlights the censor board’s refusal to “evolve with cinema” and continued portrayal of “an archaic mentality towards evolved cinema”. “Homosexuality is an important part of the modern-day narrative. Unfortunately, the Indian censor board continues to be a reflection of a massive section of the regressive Indian society,” she said.
The CBFC has been routinely criticised for forcing controversial cuts in Indian films. The board was in the news for weeks in May-July for recommending as many as 89 cuts in Udta Punjab, a film about Punjab’s drug problems. The film’s makers had moved the Supreme Court against the CBFC’s cuts, which many political leaders had termed a politically-motivated move. The industry had put up a united front, speaking up against the censor board curbing creative freedom.