Policing Cinema in the Age of Extremism
Roshni Sengupta
CENSORIUM: CINEMA AND THE OPEN EDGE OF MASS PUBLICITY by William Mazzarella Orient BlackSwan, 2013, 284 pp., 795
September 2013, volume 37, No 9

Even after 66 years of Independence, it is difficult to imagine an India devoid of rules governing what can or cannot be publicly or creatively expressed, a scenario that could be described, for want of a better descriptive palate, as an agonizingly prevalent and multifaceted ‘culture of censorship’. The dominant discourse pervades not only arts and letters, but also various media of mass communication, such as cinema, and performing arts, theatre, music, and dance. The very recent public demolition of the personality and credentials of Nobel-winning Professor Amartya Sen by the Hindu Right and the alleged violence at filmmaker Pooja Bhatt’s shoot are just some instances, which stand witness to an exceedingly intolerant political class and an easily inflamed society. Indian cinema, even after the turbulent 1990s and shaky early-to-mid-2000s has been corrupted by the violence pervading the social fabric, particularly in terms of censorship of content in order to prevent the same from fuelling anger and communal or religious rage. It is in this scenario that William Mazzarella’s work emerges as a credible, scholarly intervention, which could be summarily projected as a well-argued critique of film censorship in India.

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