Hindi Features

Two Kisses Too Long: Pahlaj Nihalani Censors James Bond, Saves Indian Culture

Spectre – the latest movie in the James Bond franchise released overseas a few weeks ago to middling reviews. Former 007 Pierce Brosnan called Spectre – ‘Neither Bond nor Bourne’.  Spectre’s Bond has evolved; he is mature and brooding where the others were brash and flashy.  And we even got to see 50 year old Monica Belucci playing a Bond Girl. The film is releasing in India this week. But not all of it.


Bond’s interests are rather limited: drinking martinis; kissing women and shooting guns while driving cars. But Pahlaj Nihalani, the chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, thinks that the corruptible Indian mind cannot be exposed to these vile interests. The martini part can be taken care of with a written warning; shooting guns is no big deal; but kissing?

The CBFC has decided that the the length of the kisses in Spectre was “too excessive” and hence cut them short by 50%, cuing much rage on Twitter. The hashtag #SanskaariJamesBond has been trending for hours.

“Both of Daniel Craig’s kisses with his co-stars have been reduced by 50 per cent. The censor board had nothing against James Bond kissing. But the length of the kisses were found to be unnecessarily excessive,” DNA quoted a source as saying.

We won’t see Daniel Craig say ‘Fuck’ and ‘Asshole,’ either, due to the audio being bleeped out.  This is not the first time Nihalani has taken such measures to protect the purity of the audiences. Earlier this year, he had also issued a ban on 36 words that must not be used in films.    “I don’t mind being called that (a conservative) if I have to serve the nation. You have to take care of the new generation, on whom the future of the country depends. So how can we allow ourselves to give them wrong education? The censor board is very liberal. But what is the modern generation watching? We are giving them the license to see anything. How is this projecting our culture?” he said to The Hindu in an interview earlier this year.


Nihalani used to produce movies before he became the CBFC chairman. And in that avatar, he made several Bollywood films filled with sexual innuendos, suggestive lyrics and dance movements.  The famous song Lal Dupatte Wali from his film Aankhen (1993) saw Govinda and Chunkey Pandey harassing two women on the road, but they did not kiss her, thankfully.  The song continues to be the first choice for men wanting to harass women on the streets.

But there was no kissing, excessive or otherwise.

Another song from the film Andaaz goes like Ye maal gaadi tu dhakka laga Garam ho gaya engine Iska dhakka deta jha. (The engine has become too hot, it needs pushing.) Replete with pelvic thrusts and suggestive noises.

But there was no kissing, excessive or otherwise.

Fellow CBFC member Ashoke Pandit says :

This is not the first controversy for Nihalani’s CBFC this year. Earlier, the board took a lot of  flak for the way it demanded certain cuts from films like NH 10 and the deletion of the word boobs from Katti Batti.

That Nihalani has nothing to say about the pervasive violence and harassment of women in Indian movies while believing that a consensual kiss that is too long can corrupt adults speaks more about his values than that of India.  That movies like SJ Surya’s Isai and the more recent Trisha Illana Nayanthara are considered acceptable – sometimes fit for children to watch – is evidence of a broken system that operates on a whim.


The whole controversy has left a bad taste in our mouths. Almost like a martini that was shaken… and stirred.