The Central Board of Film Certification popularly known as the Censor Board has been summoned by the Madras High Court in a case involving the elopement of a minor girl. The court directive follows the statement of the minor girl, 4 months pregnant now, who eloped while in Class XII last year with a 22 year old man against whom many criminal cases are pending. She admitted to having eloped on her own volition but claimed that she took inspiration from what many Tamil movies have taught her about love and romance and the options available to her.
This led the judges to lament the sad state of the movies today and how society is being spoiled by certain movies and also to summon the heads of the Censor Board to appear and provide an explanation before March 27 as to “why necessary action should not be taken against them since they are responsible for exhibiting such kind of cinemas involving POCSO Act offences.” The POCSO Act covers the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences.
While the direct implication of the CBFC might be seen as overreaching, it is worth noting that many movies deal with romances involving minors, including showing elopement as a valid way to gaining their way and eventual approval of the families.
Running away from home is a popular resolution for many romances. Movies with top heroes including Mani Ratnam’s “Bombay” with Aravind Swami and Manisha Koirala in the lead, “Kadhalukku Mariyadhai” with Vijay and Shalini in the lead and the recent “3” with Dhanush and Shruti Hassan have the protagonists eloping. “Alaipayuthe” had the protagonists married secretly but living with their respective families.
The problem is exacerbated when elopement is offered as resolution in the euphemistically titled “young romance” – meaning, underage/ school romance – where the first crush (read: hormone rush) of confused teenagers is presented as everlasting “love,” the “strength” of which needs to be proved by running away together. In addition, there is no logic to the kind of people who are attracted to each other. A school girl is attracted to the local mechanic – unlettered of course – and for no other reason except that he notices her. Nothing against mechanics – but this is so obviously a case of hormones and not “love” as mature adults understand it.
The larger issue here of course is not the freedom of the film-makers but the logic of the CBFC (Censor Board) certification process that issues “U” certificates for general viewing, meaning even a 2 year old can watch these movies. It is time we demanded more accountability from the CBFC.