Malayalam films are soon set to display a statutory warning when showing scenes that depict violence against women.
This comes after the Kerala State Human Rights Commission issued a directive to the regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), asking the board to include a statutory warning that violence against women is punishable under the law, when showing scenes that portray crimes against the gender.
In its order issued on Thursday, 26 April, the Commission stated that showing violent sexual crimes on screen could influence youngsters, and hoped that displaying the statutory warning may create a positive impact.
Regional officer of CBFC, A Prathibha, told The News Minute that the board is open to complying with the Commission’s directive.
However, when asked about implementing the directive, Prathibha said that such aspects ought to be formulated.
While there are explicit violent crimes against women, issues like stalking, verbal harassment, and the like, continue to be considered as “subtler forms” of crimes against women, or are not considered as a crime at all.
They are glorified as “romance”. Asked about how the board will define what kind of scenes will warrant display of the warning, Prathibha said that the board was yet to come to a decision on that.
Experts Weigh In
Kochi-based film reviewer and critic Maneesh Narayanan calls the statutory a “short cut.”
Asserting that he was against the display of any statutory warnings during the course of the film, Maneesh opines that warnings will not spread any awareness.
Maneesh added that it was not just the dialogues, but that voyeurism can be on display through even a camera angle and that filmmakers must consciously do away with such tactics.
“There should be an audience that questions these things and the filmmakers must be on the progressive side. They must decide that they will not make films that are offensive to women,” Maneesh said.
Bengaluru-based Neelima Menon, editor of Fullpicture.in, feels that defining what scenes warrant statutory warnings is quite problematic.
“Take a film like Ottamuri Velicham, which is on marital rape. Or even Parched. Here, a woman is being violently assaulted by her husband. In that case, what is the need for a warning? Is it not visible that what the husband is doing is wrong? Statutory warning is a shortcut, there should be awareness among filmmakers and the audience,” he said.
“Everybody knows that it is wrong, nobody is going to be inspired seeing it, so to speak. At a time when filmmakers want to do away with censoring, they will have problems when asked to display warnings like this,” she added.>