‘Masaan’ fame Varun Grover: Brutal censors give another route to creativity

Varun Grover
Varun Grover

The Hindi film industry has for long shared a bitter-sweet relationship with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Writer-lyricist Varun Grover, of “Gangs of Wasseypur” and “Masaan” fame, says the fear of facing objection by the censor board works in his favour as it open gates of creativity.

“When I write a script, I always have that censor board guy standing over my shoulder in my mind as a thought… whether the ‘censor board will clear it or not’. That blocks creativity and that is a big problem.

“But with the censor board being so brutal right now, we have to think of other creative ways to express, which is giving another route to creativity,” Grover said.

The CBFC has, over the years, attracted ire for banning films, demanding cuts in screenplay and for issuing diktats on film content.

Mumbai: Actress Shweta Tripathi, Richa Chadha with actor Vicky Kaushal during the screening film Masaan in Mumbai, on July 21, 2015. (Photo: IANS)
Actress Shweta Tripathi, Richa Chadha with actor Vicky Kaushal during the screening film Masaan in Mumbai

Grover, who in “Masaan” penned an enduring story of realities clashing with modern times in a small town, notes that issues raised by the censor board are sometimes evoke immense surprise.

“When we go to the censor board, they point to things that you would have never imagined to be objectionable. Like in ‘Masaan’, they objected to a few cuss words which fit the context. But they forced us to change them,” he said.

Grover sincerely believes that the censor board needs to “look beyond their mindset of 30 years ago”.

An IIT-alumnus, Grover, who grew up in Dehradun and Lucknow, started his creative journey by writing for the small screen with works like “The Great Indian Comedy Show” and “10 Ka Dum”, before switching to the sliver screen as a lyricist and writer.


His work diary include names like “Ankhon Dekhi” and “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”.

Other than weaving stories with his words, Grover also has a knack for comedy. He has entered the realms of the genre to spread awareness as a political satirist with a group called ‘Aisi Taisi Democracy’, along with Indian Ocean band’s Rahul Ram and social-satirist Sanjay Rajoura.

The group aims at thought-provocation with humour and music. And they also use the digital medium to reach a wider set of audience through digital video entertainment company Culture Machine’s Being Indian, a channel on Youtube.

They are also coming out with a new video, which will showcase the highlights of shows held in cities — Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kolkata — earlier this year. It will be exclusively featured on Being Indian Channel in October.

Grover says the trio gets stories from different eras and weaves them anew to present the modern context.


He said: “We talk about stories which are very personal on some level. Sanjay talks about his childhood, I talk about mine and Rahul about his — the 1970s was Rahul, 1980s was Sanjay and 1990s was me, so we cover three time zones.”

But India has undergone a tremendous change since then, what about that?

Grover believes that India may have transformed, but “the prejudices and basic failures are the same”.

“Success has changed, but basic failure of education and all the issues are the same. We address issues like morality, political issues, issues which resonate with everybody like development, malls coming in smaller towns….”

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