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Weekend Binge: Time to revive the best 4 films murdered by ex-CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 13-08-2017

© Hindustan Times Every week, we will curate a collection of titles - movies, TV, general miscellanea - for you to watch (and in some cases, read, or listen to), in a series we call Weekend Binge. The selection will be based on a theme which binds the picks - which could be extremely blunt in certain instances, or confusingly abstract in some. No rules apply, other than the end goal being getting some great entertainment to watch.

While the idea is to base the theme on the week’s major events - it could be the release of a new movie, or show - we could also use this opportunity to comment on our world in general, and turn to art to wrap our heads around some of the more difficult stories of the past seven days.

We can all heave a collective sigh of relief. You did good, all of you. Take the day off now. And never, ever, let anyone tell you that protest doesn’t matter.

Pahlaj Nihalani, the controversial CBFC chief was relieved of his duties on Friday. Bollywood writer and adman Prasoon Joshi was appointed as his successor. We hope the door doesn’t hit him on his way out.

It’s been an eventful couple of years for those of us who’ve had to give Nihalani more attention than he frankly deserves. But after months of raising our voices against his prehistoric stances on homosexuality, sexuality, sensuality, women, violence, and movies in general, we can look to the future - a brighter future - with renewed hope and optimism.

Nihalani was the focus on last week’s column, and as we take a look at the best films he desecrated in his two-year tenure, we can only pray that this is the last we hear of him - until, of course, he finally releases his inevitable opus on our Prime Minister.

Aligarh

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There are very few Indian films made with the empathy and sensitivity of Aligarh. It’s a heartbreaking tragedy of one man trying to survive in a world that doesn’t accept him. Like the film, Ramchandra Siras, a homosexual professor at Aligarh Muslim University, was beaten down, repressed and gagged - usually by those in positions of power. He was isolated, assaulted, persecuted and shamed. But we of know the pain he lived with now. We know his story, a story that will live for eternity - as a warning, but also as a sign of hope. And it makes you wonder, how could someone try to bury a tale as beautiful as this?

Angry Indian Goddesses

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There is a tenderness to this film - ironic, considering its title. But more than anything else, it’s a deliberately symbolic movie which uses sheer brute force to knock some sense into its audience - an audience that perhaps didn’t show up for its theatrical release. But no matter! Through subliminal images, and grand symbolic gestures hidden underneath it’s low-key story of six diverse women coming together, Angry Indian Goddesses represents every woman who has ever faced an injustice in this country. Despite an ‘A’ certificate, it was slapped with over a dozen cuts. You can now watch it - uncensored, like the next two films in this list - on Netflix.

Haraamkhor

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Truth be told, it would have been a bit of a miracle had Haraamkhor escaped Nihalani’s scissors unscathed. On paper, it really is a rather taboo-sounding story of a creepy married school teacher who has an affair with his underage student - but beneath that logline, there is a quirky, strangely hilarious, and bitingly satirical story of forbidden love.

Raman Raghav 2.0

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It was one of the great rivalries of modern Indian cinema. On one side, arguably the county’s most adventurous filmmakers, Anurag Kashyap - and on the other, a man sworn to destroy him. It was a co-dependent relationship that was often overwhelmed by explosions of passion and loud outbursts, a relationship that frequently called for the intervention of a mediator - the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal. But what will they do without each other’s company now? Who will they turn to? Who cares, as long as films like Raman Raghav 2.0 are released as they are meant to be seen.

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