‘IT’S WRONG TO CALL CBFC THE CENSOR BOARD’
Filmmakers should have the right to decide on cutting scenes, says Shabana Azmi
Amid all the controversy over how much say the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), informally called Censor Board, should have in the final version of a film, veteran actor Shabana Azmi asserts that the whole system needs a revamp. She believes that filmmakers, not the CBFC, should decide whether any scenes get the chop or not.
Talking to us during the Delhi premiere of her latest film, The Black Prince, Shabana says, “It’s so wrong to call the CBFC the Censor Board in the first place. It is here to certify films; censoring is not its prerogative.” Her reply comes in the context of being asked if she would ever take charge of the Censor Board, as actors Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore and Anupam Kher have done in the past.
The 66-year-old Shabana, who has always been vocal on the issue of censorship, says, “The Cinematograph Act of 1952 needs serious revision, and we have to leave it to the filmmakers to decide whether they’re open to any cuts or not.”
Referring to the Shyam Benegal Committee, which, in its 2016 report, recommended fairly drastic changes in how the CBFC works, Shabana adds, “[The committee] has been saying exactly the same thing: that censorship or [the] certifying system needs to change. Before this, there was the Justice Mukul Mudgal panel, in which Javed [Akhtar] saab was also a member, and they also suggested many changes. We’re waiting for those to be implemented.”
Commenting on the CBFC composition, she states, “However much you say that it’s an autonomous body, the fact is that those people are taken on the board [who] have some kind of affinity with the ruling party. Now this is not good for any country’s art.”
Shedding light on how the Motion Picture Association of America works, Shabana explains that there a filmmaker decides whether to accept the suggested cuts for a universal release, or to choose a more restricted certification. “So,” she says, “[filmmakers] need to have the power to decide.”
[This] is a British system, wherein you take 30-odd people from within society and you literally make them sit on judgment to change the morality of the country every five years, according to the political dispensation SHABANA AZMI, ACTOR