‘CBFC Can’t Certify Film Under Current Rating System’
Chairman Nihalani says the limits of rating system is board’s handicap
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.”