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Taramani: Why Tamil director Ram preferred A-certification over censor board cuts

Director Ram has come out with two posters of his film Taramani - slated for release on August 11 - which pokes fun at the censor board. However, he has clarified that he has nothing against the board.

regional movies Updated: Aug 10, 2017 15:32 IST
Gautaman Bhaskaran
Taramani stars Andrea Jeremiah and Vasanth Ravi.
Taramani stars Andrea Jeremiah and Vasanth Ravi.

The Central Board of Film Certification has been under fire from moviemakers for a long time now.

Spearheading the fight against the censor board was Bollywood director Alankrita Shrivastava, who eventually managed to get a U/A certificate for Lipstick Under My Burkha by “voluntarily” snipping a few bits. However, just when Pankaj Nihalani and his team thought the public spat over the “lady-oriented” film was finally buried and done with, Shrivastava came up with posters that allegedly showed censor board authorities the middle finger.

Down south, Tamil director Ram tried to spin a similar trick with the posters of his third film Taramani - slated for release on August 11. Censor board officials, however, did not take the bait.

Ram recently released two posters that seemed to be hitting out at the board, which allowed the release of Taramani on an adults-only certificate with the muting of just one word. This is what the first one had to say: “According to the censor board, a movie can get the U/A certificate if it has a man drinking his alcohol raw. However, if a movie has a woman doing the same thing, it gets ‘A’. This is why Taramani is ‘A’.”

The second poster made the same allegation, but more provocatively. “Why did you leave me and go for the movie? Because it’s an adult film, baby.... F*** you, can only men be adults?” it quipped.

However, Ram told this writer over the phone the other night that he has no issues with the censor board. Though the movie could have bagged the U/A certification with 14 cuts, he had instead decided to let it go relatively untouched with the A tag. After all, the director’s sense of artistic expression would have been in tatters if he had allowed the movie to be butchered.

Admittedly, Taramani -- named after the famous IT corridor running along Old Mahabalipuram Road in south Chennai - will lose out on some of its audience, and some re-censoring would be required to acquire satellite television rights. That would be a frightful bore, but still better than the alternative.

However, if there’s one thing I have noticed in Chennai and other places over the years, the alphabet A is meaningless when it comes to movies. Children - barely eight or nine years old - are allowed to walk into theatres to watch films meant for adults. And now, with theatre revenues in Tamil Nadu tumbling, theatre managements are only too happy to sell a ticket to whoever comes by.

The standard response one gets from parents taking their children for screenings of A-rated films is: “We did not know it was meant for older people.” But then, how can they possibly not notice the red-ink stamp that boldly proclaims ‘A’ on their movie ticket?

Taramani has been directed by director Ram and its his third film.

Taramani, in any case, is not meant for minors. It has adult content - not necessarily steamy sex or gory violence - that the censor board believes is unsuitable for those under 18 years.

All I know about Taramani is that it focuses on a heterosexual relationship, with Andrea Jeremiah and newcomer Vasanth Ravi playing the key roles. The movie’s trailer shows all-too-clearly the kind of uneasiness and insecurity a man suffers from. While the movie showcases a very confident Jeremiah on the one hand, on the other is a man with several issues. Ravi does not like seeing his girlfriend in what he believes is a short skirt, finds it irksome that she should have so many Facebook friends when he has just a few, and becomes especially disturbed by her declaration that a woman is the final authority on who she’s going to bed with.

Ram, who first came to my attention through his 2013 release Thanga Meengal (Goldfish), seems to be veering in a completely new direction with Taramani.

The previous film was a powerful take on how ill-paid teachers in private schools deeply affect the psyche of students.

Given the kind of sensitivity with which Ram handled Thanga Meengal, I am sure Taramani will present a fresh look at gender equations in a state where stalking has traditionally been seen as an expression of love. But now that it’s established as a crime, one wonders what alternative methods are employed by Ravi in trying to woo Jeremiah.

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