RGV’s latest offering is full of the two things his movies are best known for — its bold content and violence.
Ram Gopal Varma may be controversy’s favourite child, but even as he launched the trailer of his web series Guns and Thighs, talk of censorship on the big screen versus the freedom offered by the Internet has cropped up again.
RGV’s latest offering is full of the two things his movies are best known for — its bold content and violence. However, the scale seems to be amped up several times, given that the web has no restrictions or censorship.
An incensed Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Pahlaj Nihalani slammed Ramu for his content, adding that the web allowed license for ‘filth and perversion,’ and that filmmakers like Ekta Kapoor, Anurag Kashyap and RGV had been using the Internet to vent their secret fantasies.
But is this creative freedom the exact reason that drives these big filmmakers to the web? Sonam Nair, who directed the Neena Gupta, Jackie Shroff-starrer short film Khujli, says, “Yes, censorship is a large issue that drives creators to the web, because our creativity gets stifled on the big screen. We have to think about what can or will be censored, even before getting to the writing process.”
Neena, who herself made waves with her web debut in Khujli as a relatable middle aged housewife who hopes to spice up her sex life, adds, “We showed it in a tongue-in-cheek way and didn’t show anything beyond that. Now how you take it depends on you. The Internet is a very free medium, and such content can easily be put up, as there is no censorship. My fear is that people might take advantage of the medium, and we’ll also have to censor this.”
While Neena’s fears are quite realistic, Sonam adds that one must remember that content is indeed king. “It’s nice that you can have the freedom to say what you want, and the way you want to. But you need to have good content to tell your story. I really don’t think the web is being used as a platform for filth, as far as bold content goes.
There are many things online that do not have bold content; they’re nicer, simpler, and they end up working a lot more.”
The ease of accessibility, a bigger canvas and the wider range of audience, in addition to lack of censor scissors is also what drives even acclaimed filmmakers to toy with the Internet to put up short films and webs series. Take Hansal Mehta for example. The prominent director of Shahid and Citylights is making a web series starring Rajkummar Rao, on the life of Subhash Chandra Bose. “Whether it is the web or the cinema or even TV, we are looking for an outlet to tell a story. Web is giving us a captive audience, a wider audience to tell our stories. This is an opportunity to attract more audiences,” he explains, passionately. “I am attracted to the web, because for me, I want to tell stories. For me, I want to explore different mediums to tell the stories I have to tell.”
Actor and filmmaker Anand Tiwari won much praise for his Y-Films series, Bang Baaja Baraat, agrees with Hansal. “There is a freedom here to tell your story in six hours instead of two or three hours. It’s also become more viable for production houses, as Indian audiences are watching digital data,” he says. “One more thing driving content creators towards the web is the accessibility,” chips in Sonam. “This is where audiences can watch the content from their houses instead of travelling all the way to the theatres.”Hansal puts down the lure of the Internet to the evolving spectators too. “It’s like a painting; a painter often attempts working on different canvases and similarly, the web is a new canvas, which has just opened up and waiting to be explored. The web allows you to explore bolder content because of the changing nature of the audiences, as more and more are people are coming in as viewers,” he concludes.
— With inputs from Meenketan Jha