YouTube has put an age restriction on Anand Patwardhan’s 1992 documentary Ram Ke Naam, the filmmaker said on Sunday. The acclaimed film holds a U certificate (for unrestricted public exhibition) from the Central Board for Film Certification. The documentary, which can be streamed on Patwardhan’s YouTube channel anandverite, now opens with a disclaimer saying it may be “inappropriate for some users”.
Accusing the video sharing platform of quasi-censorship, Patwardhan said in a Facebook post, “Youtube is at it again, catering to Hindutva goons who want to kill all secular content. Latest is they have put an “age restriction” on my film Ram Ke Naam which has a ‘U’ certificate from CBFC, won a National Award and was shown at prime time (9 pm) on Doordarshan after the High Court ordered its telecast in 1996. The film is 28 years old!”
Ram Ke Naam, which won the National Film Award for Best Investigative Documentary and the Filmfare Award for Best Documentary, examines the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s campaign to build a Ram temple at the site of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya, which Hindutva groups claim is the birthplace of Ram. It also follows Bharatiya Janata Party leader LK Advani’s rath yatra to drum up support for the cause, which culminated in the demolition of the mosque by Hindutva mobs on December 6, 1992, sparking riots across India that left more than 2,000 people dead.
In his Facebook post, Patwardhan urged his followers to write protest letters to YouTube and Google. He pointed out that his 2011 documentary, Jai Bhim Comrade, had similarly been restricted. Jai Bhim Comrade explores the lives of Dalits in Mumbai, using as a starting point the 1997 Ramabai Nagar killings , when 10 Dalits died in police firing during a protest against the desecration of a statue of BR Ambedkar in Mumbai.
In another post on Monday, Patwardhan claimed he had submitted an appeal to YouTube, to which they said that after a second review, they had found that the video does not violate Community Guidelines, but “may not be appropriate for a general audience”.
The filmmaker wrote: “Now, if you are a child over 14 and under 18 you are allowed to do hazardous labour but you are not allowed to see Ram Ke Naam!”
According to YouTube’s guidelines, age-restricted content is that which does not violate their policies, but is not considered suitable for all age groups. Such videos “are not visible to users who are logged out, are under 18 years of age, or have Restricted Mode enabled”, according to YouTube’s help centre. Some factors that decide whether an video should be age-restricted are “vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content and portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities”.