British Board of Film Classification

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Political & Religious Issues: A South Asian Perspective

Date 14/05/2005

Films and videos that contain politically sensitive material or inflammatory references to religion that may cause problems within or between different communities in the UK may either be subjected to cuts or moved up the category scale or even, in very rare cases, be rejected.

In the case of foreign films, the BBFC may note events that have taken place elsewhere as a result of the film - eg. In the Name of Buddha being banned in Sri Lanka - but the BBFC's own considerations will focus purely on the effect this film or video is likely to have on UK audiences, especially if there is potential for causing tensions between different groups of potential viewers in the UK.

The most common example of such a film is the nationalistic film originating in India that deals with the issue of Kashmir in a one-sided manner. If there is genuine cause for offence, the film is likely to receive a higher classification than it may have had in its country of origin. The potential offence in a film that may contain politically or religiously sensitive material is weighed up against any attempt made by the film maker to either achieve a balanced portrayal of events or refrain from stereotyping an entire people or religion. Some examples of such films have been listed below:

  • In the Name of Buddha - passed 18 on film and video despite request to reject by Sri Lankan High Commissioner
  • I - Proud to be an Indian - passed 18 for glamorising vigilante action by Asians against skinheads
  • LOC Kargil - passed 18 for a one-sided portrayal on the most recent war between India and Pakistan
  • Border - Hindi film presenting Indian view on Indo-Pak conflict - pre-cut version passed PG on film, uncut video version passed 18 after attack on a video shop in Leeds
  • Maa Tujhhe Salaam - Hindi film with jingoistic Indian view on the Indo-Pak conflict
  • Khadgam - Telugu film, passed 18 after second viewing for potential offence to Muslims
  • The Siege - passed 15 on film and video despite calls to reject by Arab League and leaflets being distributed in cinema
  • Mission Kashmir - inflammatory line about Pakistanis cut for 12 on film

 

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