Editorials, GS-1, Uncategorized

Time to put an end to film censorship

  • Recently, a committee headed by veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal had submitted its report recommending a number of amendments to the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

Central Board 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, Government of India.
  • It is tasked with “regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952”.
  • It assigns certifications to films, television shows, television ads, and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in India.
  • Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they are certified by the Board, including films shown on television.

Films are certified into four categories

  • ‘U’ (Unrestricted)
  • ‘UA’ (Unrestricted, but with caution that parental discretion is required for children under age 12)
  • ‘A’ (Adult)
  • ‘S’ (Only for a special class of persons).

Films with S certification should not be viewed by the public. Only people associated with science (Engineers, Doctors, Scientists etc.) have permission to watch those films.

Key recommendations of the Committee:-

  1. An emphasis on certification over censorship (or so it claims)
  • CBFC should only be a film certification body whose scope should be restricted to categorizing the suitability of the film to audience groups on the basis of age and maturity except in the following instances to refuse certification –
    • When a film contains anything that contravenes the provisions of Section 5B (1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
    • When content in a film crosses the ceiling laid down in the highest category of certification.
  1.  More categories of certification, more leeway
  • Regarding the categorisation of films, the committee recommends that it should be more specific and apart from U category, the UA Category can be broken up into further sub-categories — UA12+ & UA15+. The A category should also be sub-divided into A and AC (Adult with Caution) categories.
  1. Curbing potential ‘reigns of terror’
  • The committee has also made certain recommendations regarding the functioning of the board and has stated that the Board, including Chairman, should only play the role of a guiding mechanism for the CBFC, and not be involved in the day-to-day affairs of certification of films.
  1. The government will have no (direct) hand in appointing Examining Committee members.
  • Regarding the Regional Advisory Panel the committee has laid down the criteria for appointment. All nine regions will have advisory panels comprising persons who are acquainted with the languages being certified by that regional office.
  1. The board will, once again, have the power of re-certifying films for TV
  • Recertification of a film for purposes of telecast on television or for any other purpose should be permitted.
  1. The CBFC-certified version of a film will not be valid for posterity
  • “In order to preserve Indian Cinema, the committee recommends that every applicant be asked to deposit the Director’s Cut in the NFAI [National Film Archive of India] for preservation of Indian Cinema, instead of the certified version, in order to truly reflect the cinematic history of Indian cinema.”

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