Indian Censors Nix Passionate James Bond Kiss in ‘Spectre’
For a country stricken with sweeping poverty, the Indian government sure worries a lot about smooching. The Central Board of Film Certification, pretty much India’s equivalent of the Motion Picture Association of America, has ruled that prints of the new James Bond film Spectre to be screened on the subcontinent must cut down on all kisses between Daniel Craig and his romantic opposite Lea Seydoux by 50%, with special attention also being paid to an early scene between 007 and a seductress played by Monica Bellucci, in which they share a passionate, lingering kiss. Bond may have a license to kill (an aspect that, curiously enough, drew no response from the CBFC whatsoever) but India’s in the process of revoking his license to love.
The government was not always defined by such a prudish sensibility. Variety notes that Indian cinema was once produced under the Indian Cinematograph Act of 1918, a permissive law that enabled some of the most rapturously sensual depictions of love in the national cinema’s history. (As an example, Variety notes the 1933 film Karma, in which husband and wife costars Himanshu Rai and Devika Rani locked lips for four entire minutes.) Indian filmmaking now operates under the Indian Cinematograph Act of 1952, with much harsher specifications as to what is and is not appropriate to be shown in the nation’s cineplexes.
Readers with a passing knowledge of American film history will recognize a close relative to this situation in the American-made Hays Code that tamped down explicit depictions of romance and violence in Hollywood from 1930 through 1968. Wily filmmakers always found a way around it, though; Alfred Hitchcock wanted his thriller Notorious to include a steamy make-out sesh between stars Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman, but the Hays Code wouldn’t allow for such a shameless display of eroticism. So Hitch took the back route and made them furiously separate their faces after every three seconds and then get back to business. Ultimately, the end result was for more intense than it would’ve been otherwise, and Hitchcock got his image of roiling attraction. It’s like they always say: love (and more specifically, sensual kissing) finds a way.