CEO, Dharma Productions
As we are all aware, we are seeing innumerable cases where films are being censored with high stringency. This is a serious issue for makers of films, as the stakes are very high for producers and studios and a delayed release can have detrimental impact on costs and recoveries.
There is a vast difference between certifying and censoring, and the job of the Central Board of Film Certification is to certify, not censor. The board is meant to classify films into various categories based on what it thinks is appropriate for the viewing audience, age-wise and otherwise.
We definitely need more categories to certify films. At present, we have only two-a below-18 category and an above-18 category. I think there was an example in the UK, where a new category of 12A was created for the film Spiderman against the original intended 12 certification, to ensure that children below 12 could also see the film along with an adult. because it had some violence even though it is aimed mainly at the youth. There are different levels of ‘adult’ content, and there are different levels of youth cinema as well.
Our board has to look at a film as a whole and in its context. It cannot pick a scene out of context and say ‘this is not okay’. So we definitely have to move towards certification and the I&B Ministry & Govt have to look into this by revamping the Cinematograph Act, and one is hopes to see a revised classification system in line with the practice followed by most countries of the world.
The problem is that we face double censorship. First, the CBFC behaves like a censor body, not a certification body and it is very whimsical. I mean, the censors leave so many loopholes that there are many grounds to take a film to court. Certification should be a guarantee, of sorts, that the film has not violated any laws. As long as we are not instigating violence and spreading hatred among communities, freedom of expression should be virtually guaranteed by the certification. There is too much moral policing, as well. Having said that, I am glad a film like Pink released. One has to give the censors credit for passing a mature film like Pink.
Also, there are suggestions being made that the number of categories for certification should increase and I agree. What I don’t agree with is that films with a certain kind of rating should not release in some areas. I am opposed to restricted viewing. I don’t see what we should complicate matters. The board’s job should end after it certifies a film.