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Smut glut

VIJAY ANAND'S dramatic resignation from the chairmanship of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) may hardly have caused any ripples in the placid corridors of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. One of Anand's suggestions was to certify soft-porn films as 'X' rated, tax them stiffly and license 'B' and 'C' grade theatres to screen them. This recommendation had actually originated from the CBFC Thiruvananthapuram office, where they are fighting a losing battle against proliferation of porn movies in Kerala. Last week, the activists of a firebrand organisation 'Ayyankali Pada' walked into Lata theatre in Moovatupuzha, 35 km from Kochi, and threw country bombs and put keel oil on the screen showing the soft-porn movie "Kadambari". This created panic among the audience who ran out of the theatre as the protestors burned a reel from the film. This incident has sent shockwaves through the soft-porn film trade, as the organisation especially in the rural areas in the State, is planning more such attacks. Actually, the porn trade is happy that the Government has opposed the idea put forward by Vijay Anand. They feel it amounts to legalising porn, which then would not be as lucrative as it is today. In Kerala, hundreds of theatres make a killing by screening soft porn. Even in Tamil Nadu, there are nearly 143 theatres screening soft porn on a regular basis, and 27 of them are on the outskirts of Chennai! If it were legalised, they would have to pay tax and also screen quality porn, as audience would reject the tasteless stuff that are being dished out now. Today, the soft-porn films, better known as the "Shakeela films" (it is a different story that she has literally retired), are made on a shoestring budget of Rs. 15-20 lakhs. The returns on these films are assured even if they run only in 30 to 40 stations. Added to that a leading Malayalam satellite channel created a new boom when they started a soft-porn film library for their late night 'midnight movie' telecast. It turned out to be a goldmine for brokers, middlemen and financiers who had purchased the satellite rights of such films for Rs. 20,000 and the channel was willing to give Rs, 5-10 lakhs for a film! It has kicked of another cycle of soft-porn filmmaking, as more than 25 films are being currently made keeping the satellite market in mind. So the boom continues making a mockery of censorship!

SREEDHAR PILLAI

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