04 December 2006

Miller v. Bollywood

In its landmark Miller v. California decision, the Supreme Court defined a three-pronged test for determining when expressive material may be deemed "obscene" and thus unprotected by the First Amendment. The first of those three prongs is the determination whether, applying contemporary community standards, the work as a whole appeals to the prurient interest.

[Incidentally, I've always thought that "Three-Pronged Test" would make an outstanding title for a film testing the practical application of the Miller decision, but I digress.]

Fortunately for the producers of any American films more risqué than Lady and the Tramp, American community standards, even around the buckle of the Bible Belt, are somewhat more permissive than in India. For Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca, a kiss is still a kiss; for Roshan and Rai in Bollywood, it's a lawsuit:
A kissing scene from a movie starring Bollywood actors Aishwarya Rai and Hrithik Roshan has irked a lawyer who has filed a criminal case against them, accusing them of obscenity, he said on Sunday.

Shailendra Dwivedi of Indore, near Bhopal, the capital of central Madhya Pradesh state, said the scene from the movie, titled "Dhoom 2," lowered the dignity of Indian women and gave an obscene message to youth.

"Bollywood actors are conveying vulgarity in the society," Dwivedi told Reuters. "These films cannot be watched with our families, they are so vulgar at times."

A local court accepted Dwivedi's petition to punish the actors and said it would hear the petitioner on December 11.

1 comment:

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