‘IT’S WRONG TO CALL CBFC THE CEN­SOR BOARD’

Film­mak­ers should have the right to de­cide on cut­ting scenes, says Sha­bana Azmi

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - Monika Rawal Kukreja monika.rawal@htlive.com

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

PHOTO: AMAL KS/HT

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