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India’s plans to censor streaming services like Netflix are a mess

India’s plans to censor streaming services like Netflix are a mess

While India is home to the world’s largest film industry and one of the planet’s largest audiences for cinema, it’s also constantly struggling with the challenge of censoring movies. Things have gotten more complicated in the past few years with the rise of international streaming video platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Streaming content produced locally and overseas isn’t regulated in India, which means they appeal to citizens looking for uncensored shows and movies. But many people in India’s largely conservative society take issue with the depiction of nudity, sex, violence, and messaging that criticizes the country and its leaders. Inconsistent measures and reporting on the actions taken by the government and these service providers have made it impossible to figure out just how far along we are in the censorship war – and who will come out on top.

India’s Central Board of Film Certification, a government body tasked with statutory censorship and classification for movies, is known for being tough on filmmakers who want to push the envelope with their messaging and imagery in India. Since its formation nearly 70 years ago, it has routinely taken its shears to innumerable films produced domestically and abroad, so as to protect the modesty of viewers nationwide by demanding that scenes depicting nudity, gore, and the reality of operating in politics be removed.

A scene from HBO's TV series Game of Thrones, which was censored by streaming services like Hotstar in India
Credit: HBO