Malayalam cinema has been making national headlines lately – for all the wrong reasons.

The local industry is up in arms against the actions of the regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification. Demands for cuts have held up some movies, while others have been denied certification outright, which debars them from being released in cinemas. The most recent row revolves around the independent production Ka Bodyscapes, which has been denied a certificate by two CBFC committees. This is hardly the first time Malayalam filmmakers have locked horns with the board – previous instances include Kathakali and Chaayam Poosiya Veedu.

Ka Bodyscapes Jayan Cherian’s second movie deals with the lives of a gay painter, a rural kabaddi player, and an activist. The CBFC has rejected the film, saying that it denigrates Hinduism and its gods, in particular, Hanuman, who is portrayed to be gay.

‘Ka Bodyscapes’.

Cherian, who lives in New York City and has previously made the headline-grabbing Papilio Buddha, has filed a petition in the Kerala High Court seeking a censor certificate. “The Censor Board is being used as a tool by vested interests to propagate a particular ideology and at the same time suppress any different ideas or views,” he declared. “No democracy can survive without freedom of speech and expression or tolerance of various ideas and opinions.”

A Prathibha, the CBFC’s regional officer, said Ka Bodyscapes did not merit certification. “A film is viewed in its totality,” she told “Two committees consecutively feel that the film is degrading to women and might disturb the religious. But that doesn’t alone call for such a hue and cry, the director still has an option to go to the tribunal.”

Mud Maza Jeyen Ravi’s feature film is about a group of children who lose their playground to bullies. The CBFC objected to a scene in which the boys throw away their muddy clothes and dance in the rain.

‘Mud Maza’.

“These are young kids, and even the term nudity seems inappropriate if you ask me,” Ravi said. “In any case, they are covering their parts with their hands in the least vulgar manner.” The CBFC told the director that the social drama would be given an A certificate if the director did not comply with its demands. Anxious to reach the intended family audience for the movie, Ravi cut out the moment, but he now regrets it. “I went ahead and agreed because I was selfish to see my film out quick, but now with the Saijo and Cherian episodes, I feel maybe I should have challenged the CBFC as well,” Ravi told “After all there’s a similar scene in PK in which Aamir Khan is seen covering himself with a radio. This was nothing more than that – if anything, cuter.” The film is scheduled for an August 26 release.

Kathakali Saijo Kannanaikkal’s debut film has been finally awarded an Adults only certificate after a delay of several weeks, forcing the director to opt for a January 2017 release. The offending moment that held up Kathakali: a long shot of the protagonist, a Kathakali artist, stripping his costume and crossing a river.


Kannaikkal reshot the scene, but the CBFC insisted that it be dropped altogether, forcing the director to file a case in the Kerala High Court. Kannaikkal has had the backing of the trade union Film Employees Federation of Kerala. Its general secretary, filmmaker B Unnikrishnan, organised a protest against the CBFC. “We have no qualms with the certification process or about the category into the film falls,” Unnikrishnan said. “That is forever dubious, but outright denial and saying that a certificate wouldn’t be issued unless the director makes all the changes is stretching it a bit too far.”

Prathibha dismissed the protest as a publicity stunt. “We went according to the rulebook and sent a letter notifying them about what was required to be omitted so that it fits the CBFC guidelines, but instead of writing back to us or sending us the revised DVD, the matter was leaked onto the media and we were made to look like anti-heroes,” she said. “We would have anyway given the film an A certificate had they written to us saying they do not want a U/A and wanted to retain the sequence with male nudity.”

Chaayam Poosiya Veedu Three instances of nudity occur in the 2015 production: during a shower, a dream sequence, and a moment of voyeurism. All three scenes are pivotal to a film about an aging writer who re-examines his ideas and values through a relationship with a much younger woman, say the filmmaker duo Satish and Santosh Babusenan.

‘Chaayam Poosiya Veedu’.

But the argument has not convinced the CBFC, which has denied the film a certificate, in effect banning it. The directors approached the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal, which is the highest body of appeal within the CBFC, and eventually moved the Kerala High court. The CBFC has passed the film with an A certificate and no cuts but with one clause – to increase the font size of the disclaimers.

Pithavinum Puthranum Deepesh’s 2013 film was originally titled Pithavinum Puthranum Parishudhathmaavinum (In the name of father, son and the holy spirit) and was renamed Pithavinum Puthranum (In the name of father and the son), but its problems were only beginning. The drama about two nuns at a convent was denied a censor certificate on the ground that it shows the Christian community in a bad light. Unlike the other films facing tribulations with CBFC, Deepesh’s film has many established mainstream in major roles, including Sunny Wayne and popular director VK Prakash. The film’s fate now rests in the hands of the CBFC’s revising committee.