Mumbai: Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained won’t be Django Shackled for Indian audiences. The American director’s latest ultra-violent journey into movie history will be released in early March with an Adults only certificate and fewer cuts than feared. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has maintained Tarantino’s artistic integrity—almost. The violence stays in the picture, but scenes depicting nudity have been dropped.
Tarantino’s Oscar-nominated seriocomic homage to spaghetti Westerns such as Django (1966) and blaxploitation films such as Boss Nigger (1975) follows liberated black slave Django’s mission to rescue his wife, Broomhilda, from an evil plantation owner. Indian viewers will be spared three sequences that fleetingly show the naked body: a glimpse of the unclad form of Broomhilda, played by Kerry Washington, in a pit (she has been punished by her owner); the sight of Django, played by Jamie Foxx, emerging undressed out of a bathtub; and a trussed-up, denuded Django. Django Unchained also stars Christoph Waltz as Django’s white mentor, Leonardo DiCaprio as the plantation owner, and Samuel L. Jackson as the plantation owner’s black enforcer.
Django Unchained’s distributor, Sony Pictures India, declined to comment.
Another Oscar-nominated film, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, will be released on 15 February with an Adults only certificate and its custodial torture scenes intact.
There is physical as well as verbal violence in Tarantino’s celebrated critique of slavery in antebellum America. The slur “nigger” occurs more often than four-letter words; heads get separated from bodies, followed by the gushing of near-comical fountains of blood; so-called white dogs (canines trained to attack blacks) lunge at a hapless slave in one sequence (audiences are spared the sight of the slave being torn to bits).
This isn’t the first time a Tarantino film has come to India a few minutes shorter than its original running length. The World War II drama Inglourious Basterds was released in 2009 without a scene in which an American soldier bashes in the head of a Nazi. The two-part Kill Bill, released in 2003 and 2004, was punished even more severely. The CBFC axed scenes of heads and limbs being chopped off. Another sequence indicating that the lead character, The Bride, is being raped and prostituted by a medical orderly while she is in a coma was snipped.
Tarantino could well kick up a fuss about the cuts if he wished to. Hollywood’s resident enfant terrible has final cut rights—the right to veto objections by producers and distributors and decide the final shape of his work.
Another movie from another director with similar privileges didn’t release in India last year. David Fincher’s adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo ran into problems not only in India, but also in countries such as Japan and Thailand. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has a violent rape scene that earns an equally violent response from the victim. Fincher re-cut the movie himself for Japan, but the cuts demanded for India were too extensive to merit a theatrical release. Dragon Tattoo eventually went straight to DVD—with the cuts.