The Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry constituted a committee, headed by the filmmaker Shyam Benegal, to suggest measures to help board members understand the nuances of film certification.
- The Central Board of Film Certification (often referred to as the Censor Board ) is a statutory censorship and classification body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
- It is tasked with regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of theCinematograph Act 1952.
- It assigns certifications to films, television shows, television ads, and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in India.
Let’s know about the composition of Board ?
- The Board consist of 25 other non-official members and a Chairperson. <All of whom are appointed by Central Govt>
- Pahlaj Nihalani presently presides the Board after Leela Samson resigned last year from the censor board
- The Board functions with its headquarters at Mumbai and 9 Regional offices.
What happened to Mukul Mudgal committee report? Wasn’t it tasked to do the same thing?
In Feb 2013, the UPA govt. had appointed Justice Mukul Mudgal to head a committee tasked to examine issues of certification under the Cinematograph Act, 1952. Precisely the same thing.
- The Mudgal Committee submitted its report in September 2013
- It went into considerable detail, looked at the existing law and where it could be amended, even worked on a draft law
- Formulated a system of certification for films to replace the current one
Why appoint another Censorship committee to do the same work which the previous one had done already?
What were the recommendations of Mudgal committee?
- It noted that the nature and size of the film industry has changed beyond recognition since the 1952 Act and the same set of rules had little relevance in this environment.
- It also noted that no criteria had been set for selecting those who were on the advisory panels of the film certification boards. This lacuna is glaringly evident in the selection of some of those on the current central board, including its chair
- Suggested replacing the term advisory panel with screening panel. This more accurately represented the task before the CBFC
- Questioned the manner in which state govternments frequently suspend or cancel the screening of films on the apprehension of law and order problems when individuals or groups object
It also suggested 5 categories for film certification as the existing 2 categories were insufficient.
What were those 5 categories?
A new form of classification of films –
- Unrestricted exhibition as U
- For persons who have completed twelve years of age as 12+
- For persons who have completed fifteen years of age as 15+
- Restricted to adults as A
- Restricted to members of any profession or any class of persons, having regard to the nature, content and theme of the film as S
These 5 categories make sense and reflect similar categories followed in many other countries.
The job of the CBFC is to certify films and not to censor them.
- In any case, terms like “obscene” or “immoral” that appear in the law can only be subjectively defined. Often film-makers complain of films being viewed through a conservative “moralistic prism” by the panel
It would have been simpler to accept Mudgal committee suggestions rather than asking another committee to go over the same ground unless the purpose is to use this to push these issues under the carpet once again. Finally, Cinema is the mirror of society and reflection of what society is!