Implement Benegal Committee Report on Film CertificationWith their combined experience, members of the Shyam Benegal committee on film certification have presented their report to the government which contains excellent suggestions to streamline the operations of the CBFC and make decisions transparent.
By Sunil Garodia
In a bold suggestion, the committee has recommended that the CBFC be denied the power to snip and cut films. Rather, they have said that there should be two separatesub- categories under U/A and A certifications. In the U/A (parental guidance) category, they have recommended that there should be one for under 12 years and another for under 15 years. Similarly, in the A category, one should be normal while the other should be âwith caution.â
They have also recommended that the filmmakers should apply for the classification they want based on their target audience. The CBFC should only deny to certify the film on two accounts: one, if it is beyond the ceiling laid down in the highest category of certification and two if it contravenes the provisions of Section 5B (1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. It has said that the CBFC chairman should be the guide and should not involve himself in the day to day work of film certification.
If film content is art, then it is criminal to ask the maker cut a part of his creation. Hence, the committeeâs proposal that there should be a certification for adults with caution is laudable. If people are warned that the film contains disturbing content and if they still go and watch it, it is their choice. Also, the ceilings up to which certification under each category, including the highest category, can be granted should be clearly defined and should not be left to the whims of the certifying authority.
The committee has also recommended that apart from other representations (like from local film industry, film societies, NFDC, National Commission of Women and National Council for Protection of Child Rights in equal 25 percent proportion), the overall composition of Regional Advisory Panels of the CBFC should have at least 50 percent women. Those appointed to such regional panels must be acquainted with the language of the film being certified.
When the committee was appointed, I & B minister Arun Jaitley had said that he wanted a âcontroversy freeâ CBFC. Now is his chance to do that. By implementing the committeeâs report, he can make CBFC do exactly what its name suggests â certify a film and not censor it.