Let me tell you first that I was never a supporter of censorship. I believe that the creators should be given the liberty to bear and tell the story as they wish to. A third-party interference ruins it all – for the makers and the audience. But what I have been seeing on digital lately has made me wonder whether the people who always supported censorship were right in the first place? Is everyone responsible enough to use freedom in the right way? Are content creators abusing the liberty given to explore their creativity and show whatever they desire to?
I think some of them are truly exploiting it without understanding the power of the medium. Blessed are the ones who have been gifted with the talent of visual storytelling. They should undoubtedly be careful about how they use it, especially when their content is released on a platform that is open to people of all age, gender, caste, community, and religion. And no, it’s not about hurting anyone’s religious sentiments. Even love in its most purest form hurts religious sentiments – we cannot do anything about it.
Visual storytelling and its impact is far greater than we can ever imagine. One powerful scene of one second is enough to change someone’s life or perception for the entire life. This can happen even without the knowledge of the person who just consumed the content. When such a powerful medium is given to you, you need to understand what to serve your audience and what not to serve them. But unfortunately, some makers are abusing the freedom that comes with going digital. While some web series are showing soft porn for viewership, others are bombarding you with gory, curse words, hatred, and all sorts of negativity. I have no problem with storytellers showing sex or using strong language in their story when it demands such scenes and language. You cannot have a character who has been raised in the red light area and write dialogues for him/her in the flowery language. But yes, only if your characters and story demands it. You cannot or ideally should not indulge in violence or have scenes that can affect communal harmony or have sexually explicit content in a show that you didn’t warn us about – you didn’t tell us that it cannot be watched with your family.
I discussed censorship with a friend of mine, I also put up a poll on Instagram and I realised that people do not want digital content to be censored. The main concern from a friend was, how do I know they are not censoring the wrong content? And I agree with her – what if a story that is way ahead of its time needs to be told? Storytellers are the ones that have the power to change the world, isn’t it? Then why not change it for the better?
Coming back to the point of censorship, my question remains the same. What if in the form of a web series, soft porn is consumed by kids? And mind you, this is being streamed on OTT platforms that are FREE OF COST. These apps are easily accessible. The scenes are available on social networking sites like Facebook. When sex is being promoted for viewership, don’t you think there should be a governing body who takes care of what goes out for consumption and if the content is being consumed by the right age group?
The same thing applies to violence. The kind of graphic details some web shows are focusing on are horrendous. These graphics can disturb even some of the healthiest of minds. What if someone with anxiety or depression ends up watching shows that are unhealthy for their minds?
Don’t give me the disclaimer shit. We are living in the social media times where everything is easily available. Even if you decide to skip the content, it’s being fed to you by social media. My point is – why make something that’s not contributing to the well-being of any living being? If you are using hatred to convince people how hatred can destroy the human race and give their minds something to think about, give them a point of view so that their perception can change, the hatred is fine. But where the hatred is not serving any real purpose and is used simply for viewership, I am not okay with it. We have films like Taare Zameen Par and Munna Bhai MBBS that without any gory changed the thinking and way of living of many people. Now you may argue that their subjects were different. Give these subjects to filmmakers who love violence and hatred, they will show you how Ishan Awasthi was tortured by his parents, probably even raped by the teacher or peon in the school. Give them Munna Bhai MBBS and they will brutally kill more patients than Coronavirus has till date. It’s about the way you present your content is what matters.
With great visual storytelling comes great responsibility. If digital continues to stoop low, censorship will definitely be thrust upon and I won’t be against the censorship this time. It’s time that OTT platforms start screening the content or else they will soon face some serious consequences. And none of us will like it.