MUMBAI: Even while giving the censor chief Leela Samson a clean chit, the well-received sex comedy Pyaar Ka Punchnama’s director Luv Ranjan thinks there’s much cleaning up to do in the Censor Board.
“I went to the Censors with the abuses beeped. I didn’t want them to do it. I did it myself. My take is that boys do abuse when they get together. But since I knew the Censors would object, I beeped the expletives out myself. It was my tongue-in-cheek dig at those MTV Roadies and Emotional Atyachar shows.”
In spite of those beeped abuses, the Censor Board was willing to pass the film only with an Adults (A) certificate.
Ranjan tells Businessofcinema.com, “My problem was, my film has six newcomers and I needed a wider audience-spectrum. They wouldn’t tell me why my film deserved an ‘A’ certificate or what cuts I should make to avoid it. They had made up their minds that my film would be given an ‘A’ certificate – no arguments! They just told me that the theme of live-in relationships was adult. I argued that live-in relationships were as legal in India as marriages. This was unconstitutional to me. What about the live-in relationship in Yash Raj’s Salaam Namaste? But I wasn’t allowed to give any references. ”
After going through three revising committees Ranjan lost his cool. “I called up the new censor chief Ms Leela Samson. She called me to Chennai to watch my film. She was totally comfortable with the film. But the R.O in Chennai was uncomfortable about what the other censor-board members would think. Ms Samson said , ‘We’ve to do what is right.’ But the minute she left, the R.O in Chennai turned around and told me, ‘So what if she approves? She doesn’t have to be answerable to others.’”
Finally Ranjan had to make the cut. “I was forced to make the most ridiculous cuts because my release was around the corner. In one sequence showing my heroine brooming they said there was too much cleavage. They asked me to reduce it by 50 percent. Then they said to reduce the length of a kissing sequence. In reducing it, all the humour in that sequence has gone. One of my heroes Rayo Bhakhirta moves around in his innerwear inside the bachelor pad. They asked to remove any one of his shots. I asked which one. They said, ‘Any’. The whole idea was to show cuts on paper! Why don’t the censors go to Hardwar and censor all these men bathing by the Ganges?”
Ranjan adds, “They had passed my theatrical trailer. But three days later when I submitted the same trailer they asked me to make five cuts – in the same trailer that had been passed just three days back. When I protested, they said that was a different committee. One of the board members told me I should not argue and accept the cuts. I lost my cool. If I had to silently accept the cuts why call me to the meeting? Then this board member (Brij Mohan Sharma) claimed I had threatened him.”
Luv Ranjan couldn’t take his film to the Censor Tribunal. “The censor-board committees had not made the report on my film to submit to the Tribunal!”
Ranjan thinks the Censor Board harassed him because he is a new filmmaker. “I don’t take sh..t from anyone. And since I was new I had to take it, or suffer the consequences. If I had a Yash Raj Films backing me or if my film starred Ranbir or Imran, I wouldn’t have been treated this way. In Yashraj’s Luv Ka The End they’ve let the term ‘slutty Savitri’ go. In Delhi Belly they’ve allowed D K Bose.”
The film has also been accused of being anti-woman. Says the director, “All the experiences that my protagonists have with the girls is based on what my friends have gone through. However, to make it so sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek I had to watch their relationship from afar.”
Sighs Ranjan, “If this is the way my films are going to be treated I’ve no right to be a filmmaker. I’ll always feel the cuts have affected the film.”
Luv Ranjan’s next film Saathi is a romance set in the monsoon. “Let’s see what the Censors have to say about my wet characters,” he chuckles.