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April 05, 2018

And the World Leader in Film Censorship for 2017 Is ... India!

CYBERSPACE—India’s Bollywood film industry is the busiest in the world. In 2012—the most recent year for which stats were available—India cranked out an eye-popping 1,602 feature films. By comparison, second-place China produced 745 films and the United States a relatively meager 476. But India also leads the world in censoring films for reasons ranging from sexual content to “cultural values,” according to a new study, The State of Artistic Freedom, conducted by the anti-censorship group Freemuse. The study covered only instances of censorship in the year 2017. But 2018 is already off to an ominous start in India, thanks to a new film starring American porn performer and AVN's 2014 Best New Starlet award winner Mia Malkova. Malkova released her “philosophical treatise” titled God, Sex and Truth in January, with maverick Indian director Ram Gopal Varma behind the camera. The film features Malkova delivering a monologue covering topics ranging from her porn career, to feminism, to the controversial philosopher Ayn Rand—all while appearing nude throughout the film. As a result of the nudity, Varma now faces criminal charges and possible jail time in his native country. But 2017 was apparently a banner year for film censorship in India, with movies such as Lipstick Under My Burkha, Nude and Sexy Durga all facing the censor’s scissors—the latter film primarily because of the word “sexy” in the title, which was shortened by censors to S Durga.  A full 20 percent, or one of every five film censorship cases worldwide, came out of India in 2017, according to the study’s findings. That number places India ahead of Turkey and India’s neighbor and rival Pakistan, each of which accounted for 9 percent of movie censorship cases. China, despite remaining one of the world’s top film-producing countries, accounted for “only” 6 percent of censorship cases. The study also counted reported instances of threats and persecution leveled against filmmakers and film performers, and found that India again led the world, accounting for a full one-third of all cases. The United Arab Emirates placed a distant second with 17 percent of filmmaker persecution cases. The Freemuse study covered 553 documented cases of artistic freedom violations in 78 countries. In one instance of persecution, the film Satyadev IPS faced violent protests simply for being dubbed into the Kannada language from its original Tamil. Protesters claimed that dubbing of films posed a threat not only to local culture in the western state of Karnataka where the language is primarily spoken, but to the film industry there, which employs thousands in production of movies in the local language. Photo: Sexy Durga promotional poster

 
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