‘CBFC Can’t Cer­tify Film Under Cur­rent Rat­ing Sys­tem’

Chair­man Nihalani says the lim­its of rat­ing sys­tem is board’s hand­i­cap

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Gau­rav.Laghate@ times­group.com

Mum­bai: Cen­tral Board of Film Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion’s (CBFC) de­nial to cer­tify film­maker Prakash Jha’s lat­est pro­duc­tion, ‘Lip­stick Under My Burkha’ – a women-cen­tric film, which has won ac­co­lades and ap­pre­ci­a­tion at in­ter­na­tional film fes­ti­vals, has once again raised ques­tions on the role of the board and chair­man Pahlaj Nihalani.

Last week, CBFC, the statu­tory body, whose role is to cer­tify films under three cat­e­gories – U for un­re­stricted pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion, UA for un­re­stricted pub­lic ex­hi­bi­tion sub­ject to parental guid­ance for chil­dren be­low the age of 12, and A for Adults only – re­fused to cer­tify ‘Lip­stick...’

In its rea­son, CBFC stated that the story is “lady-ori­ented, their fan­tasy above life. There are contentious sex­ual scenes, abu­sive words, au­dio pornog­ra­phy and a bit sen­si­tive touch about one par­tic­u­lar sec­tion of so­ci­ety.” “We are go­ing to chal­lenge CBFC in the Film Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Ap­pel­late Tri­bunal (FCAT). It’s a mind­set is­sue. I am not ques­tion­ing the author­ity of CBFC mem­bers, but when you give so much power to de­cide on the grad­ing of films to some peo­ple, they are go­ing to take de­ci­sions based on their mind­set,” Jha told ET. “A film, which is get­ting such ci­ta­tion and ap­plause across the world, how can you say you will not cer­tify it?” he asked.

Mean­while, Nihalani told ETthat CBFC can­not cer­tify the film under the cur­rent rat­ing sys­tem. “Peo­ple are not aware of how the CBFC works. There is an act, a rule­book and guide­lines as per which we can cer­tify the films. Un­like other coun­tries, where they have 5-7 dif­fer­ent rat­ings, In­dia only has 3,” Nihalani said. “We are hand­i­capped be­cause of the lim­i­ta­tions of the rat­ings sys­tem. We have to fol­low the law and there is noth­ing above ‘A’ cer­tifi­cate,” he ar­gued. He also said that af­ter tak­ing the charge of chair­man at the board in Jan­uary 2015, he him­self had submitted rec­om­men­da­tions to then In­for­ma­tion and Broad­cast­ing Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley to amend the cur­rent sys­tem with more grad­ing. And while the rec­om­men­da­tions haven’t got­ten the gov­ern­ment’s ap­proval yet, the board and Nihalani kept com­ing into the lime­light for all the wrong rea­sons – be it about ask­ing to re­move the word Pun­jab from the movie ‘Udta Pun­jab’ (apart from 80 cuts), or cutting down the length of the kiss scene in the James Bond film ‘Spec­tre’. While CBFC also did not al­low the ex­hi­bi­tion of erotic film ‘50 Shades of Grey’, it also ex­pected cuts in Os­car-win­ning ‘Moon­light’.

Sid­dharth Roy Ka­pur, a lead­ing film pro­ducer and Pres­i­dent of the Film and Tele­vi­sion Pro­duc­ers Guild of In­dia said that the re­cent fre­quency with which the CBFC has been deny­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to movies is “truly alarm­ing”.

De­nial of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion can be on the grounds where the film is ‘against the in­ter­est of the sovereignty and in­tegrity of In­dia, the se­cu­rity of the state, friendly re­la­tions with foreign states, pub­lic or­der, de­cency or in­volves defama­tion or con­tempt of court or is likely to in­cite com­mis­sion of any of­fence.’

Roy Ka­pur stated that it is crys­tal clear that the films re­cently de­nied cer­ti­fi­ca­tions do not come even re­motely close to this def­i­ni­tion. “When adults in our coun­try have the free­dom to vote, marry and pro­cre­ate, drive, im­bibe al­co­hol and to­bacco, and con­sume any and all con­tent un­cen­sored on the in­ter­net, it is ap­palling that the CBFC does not con­sider them ca­pa­ble of mak­ing their own de­ci­sions with re­gard to what to watch in a cin­ema hall.” He added that an over­haul of the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process is es­sen­tial if free­dom of ex­pres­sion is to be up­held as a pre­cept “if our movies are to be a true re­flec­tion of con­tem­po­rary social re­al­i­ties.”

Pahlaj Nihalani

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