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Not quite as menacing as a dragon.

This is old news but since it’s rather momentous, I figure I’m allowed to exult about this even though this happened 4 days ago. David Fincher’s The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo is not going to be released in India. This probably makes those of us who did see the film’s press screening feel rather special. At the time of the press show, all our pulses raced a bit faster because we were going to see the film before it had been shown to the Censor Board of Film Certification and that meant there would be no cuts in the film. After seeing the film, most of us were curious to see what of the film would make it to the Indian theatres because like the Swedish version of the film, Fincher’s adaptation is faithful to the graphic violence in Stieg Larsson’s book. One person said that by the time the Censor Board was done with the film, it would need to be retitled to The Girl With the Pet Dragon. None of us thought of the title on the left. I feel this was hugely remiss on my part, given I do have a kitten tattoo, that too on my back. Though given Swedish crime fiction, The Girl With the Kitten Tattoo would probably be utterly twisted and violent and nothing like my life.

Anyway, as it turns out, there isn’t going to be an Indian cut of The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo. Because — everyone get ready to applause loudly — Fincher told India’s Censor to, as they say colloquially, go jump. He is the first Hollywood director to put his foot down and insist that the sanctity of the director’s cut be respected. In India, films are constantly snipped so that the tender sensibilities of the Indian audience aren’t offended by the sight of people kissing or having sex. It usually makes the film seem jumpy but on occasion, the film’s plot is brutally amputated. For example, when Love Actually released in India, the entire strand about the body doubles was edited out. This practice is particularly infuriating because these films are still certified ‘A’, in spite of the cuts. Which suggests that, according to the Censor Board, adults aren’t adult enough to see naked bodies, sex or extreme violence. Why foreign directors and producers have agreed to the Censor Board’s demands is something I’ve never understood. I suppose for years, no one really cared what happened in a market as insignificant as the one for non-Bollywood films in India. Fincher, however, has made it clear that he doesn’t care how small the market may be but his film is not going to be re-edited by the Indian Censor Board. If this means no The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo in India, then so be it. Someone give the man a cupcake.

Someone was telling me that as opposed as they were to the Censor Board’s cutting policy, they couldn’t help feeling relieved that the film wasn’t being released in its entirety. “Why give people ideas? Can you imagine if someone took a leaf out of Stieg Larsson’s book?” they said. Because of course, rapists in India need this movie to give them “ideas”. This, in a country where even female infants are raped. Incredible.

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5 thoughts on “Cut it Out

  1. Just for the record, Fincher isn’t the first. Speilberg did it back at the time of Saving Private Ryan (the CBFC capitulated). I don’t know if he was the first either. The “first” is always a very dubious claim to make.

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