WILL CENSOR SCISSORS BE BLUNTED?
Shyam Benegal’s meeting with I&B officials revives speculation
The Central Board of Film Certification has become one of the most controversial entities of India, drawing criticism from filmmakers and even actors such as Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma. A debate has again been triggered by director Shyam Benegal’s recent meeting with Information & Broadcasting Ministry officials.
Benegal was checking on the status of a report submitted by a panel led by him in 2016. It suggested the CBFC should limit itself to issuing certification, and not censor anything. Benegal is hopeful that this would catalyse changes in the Cinematograph Act 1952. He tells us, “We gave the report in April and in October — they are yet to take action.”
The report has proposed introducing a new category called ‘adult with caution’; and sub-dividing existing categories for teen groups.
In response, Pahlaj Nihalani, CBFC chairman, tells us, “What the Shyam Benegal report says, I don’t agree with. If we don’t have a rating system between UA and A, we’ll suggest cuts, or we can’t certify [a film].”
Filmmaker Homi Adajania points out snipping scenes is unnecessary, adding, “If certification is categorised, audiences can self-censor.” Director Ruchi Narain, who faced censorship issues with her cartoon film, quips, “Filmmakers should make films; the certification board should certify.”
Ruling out the possibility that censorship could ever be scrapped, filmmaker Hansal Mehta says that he has “a sinking feeling” Indian cinema will have to live and work within its guidelines.
In support of the report, film critic Omar Qureshi says, “Censorship rules are archaic. The suggestions are an upgrade on the lines of the American association.”
We are breeding a ‘ban mentality’. You’re irritating people to the degree that it’s suffocating them. We’re educated. We know what’s right, what’s not.
ANUSHKA SHARMA, ACTOR (IN AN EARLIER INTERVIEW)
I’d urge you to get in touch with the secretary of the [I&B] ministry or even the minister Ms Smriti Irani and ask them why they haven’t taken any action
SHYAM BENEGAL, FILMMAKER
It’s a wrong interpretation by some unknowledgeable people that CBFC is just a certification body. There’s an act and rulebook also, which you can’t forget
PAHLAJ NIHALANI, CBFC CHIEF