RAW to Hamara, KGB to SBU, Scotch to Drink, Mrs. Bharatmata to Hamari Bharatmata! The changes that Pathaan made

A document detailing the CBFC-recommended 12 changes appears online. Subtle changes to Besharam Rang is listed to, but it appears unlikely that the song will be dropped.

Deepika Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan in a scene from Besharam Rang song from Pathaan [2023]

By Mayur Lookhar

If the Boycott Bollywood brigade wasn’t enough, Pathaan [2023] itself attracted controversy over the Besharam Rang song. A 3-odd second footage of Deepika Padukone dancing in a saffron colour skimpy outfit made Hindu hardliners see red. Surprisingly, some members of the minority community, too, have joined them in condemning the song, deeming it as vulgar.

Early this morning, Bajrang Dal activists created a scene at a multiplex in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, tearing the posters of Pathaan, demanding a ban on the film in their city. Shortly after their protest, a document has surfaced on social media, highlighting the changes made to the film, as recommended by the Central Board of Film Certification.

The key thing observed in the above is how producers YRF have made subtle changes to the Besharam Rang song, but it will not be dropped, as demanded by the right wing activists. We presume Deepika’s saffron outfit could be replaced or maybe the colour is changed. What’s mentioned in the document is how suitable shots have replaced the following –

a – Close up shots of buttocks

b- During the lyrics ‘bahut tang kiya..” the sensuous dance movements are suitably curtailed

c- Side pose (partial nudity)

The things that aroused our curiosity though is some of the other changes. Remarkably, the word Scotch has been replaced to drink. Thank god it is not ‘hamara drink’. We wonder what could be the reason behind this? Surely, director Siddharth Anand hasn’t aped the famous ‘what a waste of scotch’ line from Skyfall [2012]. The original line in the Hindi film read as “isse sasti Scotch nahi milegi” (You wouldn’t find a cheaper Scotch).

The other eye-catching changes are the objection to the word RAW, which will now be referred to as hamara. Phew, can filmmakers no longer use the Indian intelligence agency name again?

Other intriguing alterations see the Russian intelligence agency KGB being changed to SBU. CBFC even had reservation over the words Black prison Russia. Given how some Russian millionaires have died in mysterious circumstances in India recently, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

The one bizarre change is addressing the PM as President. The quirky one is how Mrs. Bharatmata has been changed to Hamari Bharatmata. Well, we don’t blame the CBFC for such recommendation. Given the penchant for hamara (our), maybe the film could also have been titled Hamara Pathaan.

A particular character [name blurred] is shown as a RAW agent and has been modified. We don’t know the intricate details here, but it would be interesting to know the rationale behind this. There is speculation that John Abraham’s character could be that RAW agent. If so, then wouldn’t it draw similarity with the mole in War [2019]?

We hope these changes assuage the fears of the aggrieved hardliners and Pathaan releases smoothly. Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone and John Abraham, the YRF production is set to be released in theatres on 25 January.

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