A Compilation of Censorship Battles and Perspectives

in Article
Published on: 20 July 2017

A list of some documentary films that have been denied screening or censored:


1. I Live In Behrampada (1993)

Director: Madhushree Dutta

The film was made in the context of Bombay riots of 1992-93. It was denied a censor certificate in the first attempt and a clearance was given after two years.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iwJJkztt_0k


2. War and Peace (2002)

Director: Anand Patwardhan

The film examines the decades-long conflict between India and Pakistan that propelled both countries to pursue nuclear armament. The filmmaker was asked to make 21 cuts by the CBFC. The film was banned for over a year but after a court battle, the film was screened without a single cut

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTYIWmXzteo


3. Final Solution (2004)

Director: Rakesh Sharma

The film concerns 2002 Gujarat pogrom in which both Hindu and Muslims are targeted in the state of Gujarat by political extremists. It was banned by the Censor Board for several months. The ban was lifted after a sustained campaign throughout the country.



4. Jashn-e Azadi (2007)

Director: Sanjay Kak

Jashn-e-Azadi begins to explore the many meanings of freedom in Kashmir. In 2012, the screening at Symbiosis College of Arts and Commerce in Pune was stopped by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and other right-wing organizations.

Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJnwGEk1fzQ


5. Had Anhad (2009)

Director: Shabnam Virmani

The film is part of a series of four films exploring the legacy of Kabir reflected in folk songs, music, books and films. The film was asked to make several cuts by the CBFC and FCAT before being cleared by the Delhi High Court in 2011.

Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dr83axn1IbM


6. Inshallah Football (2010)

Director: Ashvin Kumar

The film on football culture in Kashmir was given an ‘A’ certificate after being initially banned by the CBFC

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_zBZ5gz7eY


7. Jai Bhim Comrade (2011)

Director: Anand Patwardhan

The film, shot over 14 years, follows the poetry and music of cultural activists who sing against caste atrocities in India. ABVP activists attacked the student organizers at FTII during a cultural evening by Kabir Kala Manch after the screening of the film.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0VZfMncos0


8. Texture of Loss (2012)

Director: Pankaj Bhutalia

The film is a part of a trilogy on conflict-torn regions in India: Manipur (Manipur Song, 2007), Kashmir and Assam (A Landscape of Neglect, 2015). It was denied a censor certificate by the CBFC and FCAT before being approved by the Delhi High Court.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJLGCkdP1wE


9. Muzaffarnagar Baaki Hai (2014)

Director: Nakul Sawhney

The film, based on the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013, was denied screening by members of the ABVP at Kirori Mal College (Delhi University)

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UYPYBmpp7E


10. Battle of Banaras (2015)

Director: Kamal Swaroop

The documentary based on Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal’s electoral fight in Banaras in 2014 was denied a censor certificate, with the CBFC making the unprecedented demand for a No Objection Certificate from the politicians featured. Manu Kumarann, the producer has moved the Delhi High Court against against the CBFC and the FCAT for not granting a release certificate to the documentary.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXu3XcTwkDM


11. Caste on the Menu Card (2015)

Director: Reetika Revathy Subramanian, Vaseem Chaudhary, Atul Anand and Ananyaa Gaur

The film on beef consumption in Mumbai was denied screening at the Jeevika Film Festival, New Delhi after the festival organisers were pressurized by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-hfzRgr-Bc

Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mQYRinzRGXU



Related Articles


1. ‘Censorship and Public Access: 100 years of Documentary Films in India’, by Madhushree Dutta



2. Catalogue of all Censorship Cases and Legal Papers of Anand Patwardhan’s films



3. ‘Documentary Filmmakers: A Room of One’s Own’, by Sandeep Vishwanath



4. ‘The secret life of film censorship’, by Shohini Ghosh



5. 'Cut and Thrust', by Lawrence Liang




Related videos


1. Interview by Kamal Swaroop on the ban of his film ‘Battle of Banaras’:



2. Shohini Ghosh speaks on film censorship in post-liberalisation India in her presentation, ‘The prohibition and production of bad images’, as part of a day-long conference held in the India International Centre, New Delhi: