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Filthy ‘Over The Top’ OTT content: The court steps in

If there is a law in place, one is bound to follow it and behave accordingly. In the United Kingdom, all movie and OTT content is subject to censors

If there is a law in place, one is bound to follow it and behave accordingly. In the United Kingdom, all movie and OTT content is subject to censors and, all major platforms that operate there, have been getting their content duly rated from the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC). The only OTT platform that had avoided committing itself to this system was Amazon Prime. It has now signed up for the British Content Rating Guidelines and offers age-wise ratings for content.

As many as 29 Video On Demand and OTT streaming platforms operate in the UK and all of them provide age ratings for their content. The censorship of films in India is a British legacy, of course. The intentions were different when it was launched. The British Raj wanted to curb anything that smacked of being against it. The Indian State has continued to subject films to censorship as the moral guardian of the public.

This is the same country, ironically, that promotes tourism in the name of caves filled with reliefs of ‘maithuna’ and is proud of being the country of Vatsyayana and his ‘Kama Sutra’! Actually, films rarely if ever depict sex or obscenity. The purpose of the censor board is mainly to check on gore and violence.

The point is, Indian authorities have such a cockeyed view that while they go extra hard on movies, they let anything and everything pass as OTT content! The Government of India keeps banning porn sites (you know the kind politicians and lawmakers enjoy when Parliament and state assemblies are in session!), but it lets all the vulgarity it doesn’t want people to watch on porn sites, to appear on OTT platforms.

This vulgarity on OTT is being dished out on a regular basis and the visuals and language used reflect the same depraved mindset that rapists of three- and six-year-old girls have.

OTT series such as ‘Special Ops’, ‘Scam 1992: The Harshad Mehta Story’, ‘The Family Man’, ‘Panchayat’ and ‘Criminal Justice’ were greatly appreciated and not because they carried filthy stuff. But makers still churn out the series that ooze obscenity, vulgarity and gore.

The powers that be don’t like the courts directing them in every matter, but lethargy on their part leads to courts becoming the final destination. A lot many decisions that the government should take are left for the courts to effect.

The government’s views is so cockeyed that it wants films to be clean and wholesome, but, at the same time, the content on OTT platforms depict vulgarity ad nauseam. Films are rated A, UA, U, and so on, and the cinemas, at least in major centres, follow the norms. In the case of OTT content, which reaches our homes, we have no control and even children have access to it.

The courts have now decided to step in. This week, the Delhi High Court took cognizance of the matter. It observed that the content of the TVF-produced web series ‘College Romance’ on Sony’s OTT platform was “obscene, lascivious and profane”. The Court also asked the government to take steps to check the language on such platforms.

The judge, Swarana Kanta Sharma, found the language so obscene and vulgar that she had to use earphones to watch the episodes lest it shocked and alarmed people around.

The judge ruled that TVF, the show’s director Simarpreet Singh and actor Apoorva Arora are liable to face action under Section 67 (publishing or transmitting, in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious) and 67A (punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

The court also observed that since the web series was available on YouTube, which is viewed by everyone in the country, there are no age restrictions.

This is a good start. Finally, the law has stepped in and, unless the government takes steps to check OTT content, more FIRs will follow, wasting the time and money of the courts.

–By Vinod Mirani

Pic. SourceSony LIV
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