oppn parties Saffron is the New Colour of the Censor Board

News Snippets

  • Supreme Court holds hotels liable for theft of vehicle from their parking area if parked by valet, says "owner's risk" clause is not a shield from such liability
  • Finance Minister says she is receiving feedback from many sectors that recovery is happening as there is lower stress
  • Sabarimala temple opens, but police bar the entry of women below 50 years
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says Air India and BPCL to be sold off by March
  • Media person Rajat Sharma resigns as DDCA president
  • Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress postpone meeting the governor of Maharashtra
  • Shiv Sena not to attend the NDA meeting on 17th November, says break up "a formality"
  • Shiv Sena says that the confidence the BJP is showing about forming the government in Maharashtra is based purely on its expectation of getting numbers through horse trading
  • Anil Ambani resigns as director of the bankrupt Reliance Communications
  • India beat Bangladesh by an innings and 150 rums inside three days in the first Test. Indian pacers excel after Mayank Agarwal's double century
  • Sena-NCP-Congress work out a common minimum programme, will form the government soon and it will last 5 years, says Sharad Pawar
  • Income Tax Appellate Tribunal upholds the decision to withdraw the charitable status of Young India, making it liable to pay Rs 145 in income tax. Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra are the majority shareholders in the company
  • CBI raids offices of Amnesty International across India
  • Supreme Court quashes NCLAT order against Arcelor Mittal and paves the way for the company to take over ailing Essar Steel
  • Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says concerns of telcos will be addressed and no company will close down
Supreme Court dismisses plea for review in Rafale case, says no need for roving inquiry, maintains clean chit to government
oppn parties
Saffron is the New Colour of the Censor Board

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The NDA government has been quick to make new appointments to the Central Board of Film Certification after the resignation of the chairperson, Leela Samson and 9 other members. Filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani has been appointed the new Chairman.

But the appointments have immediately created controversy as most of the new appointees are close to the BJP and some are even active RSS members. Nihalani himself had made the election video of ‘Har Ghar Modiâ€â"¢ for the BJP before the last general elections and is an unabashed Modi admirer. This has led to the charge that the CBFC is being â€Å"saffronized.”

Film certification is a necessity even in a country like the USA where the Constitution allows unabridged freedom of speech and expression. But the US film industry itself follows some norms and certifies films for viewership according to age. In other countries, there are independent bodies funded by the government. In India, we have a government appointed board, under the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, filled by people chosen by the government of the day. Although Regional Boards have Advisory Panels attached to them where ordinary peole help them in certification, this Advisory Panel is also appointed by the government.

This is not good. There should be an independent body with representation from the film industry, the government and the civil society. This should be the norm for both the main and the regional bodies. These bodies can be funded by the industry, or by the government and the industry in equal proportions. They should have fixed tenures for their members and transparent guidelines for certification. The appellate structure should also be well defined.

Further, a professional set up is necessary to avoid unnecessary hold-ups. Film making is costly business and release dates are fixed well in advance, sometimes even 12 to 18 months ago. If a film is held up by the CBFC, producers lose money and it would be very difficult to get the next date for releasing the film without clashing with another big budget production, resulting in a loss for both. Transparent guidelines, professional set up and well defined appellate structure would ensure smoothness in the process.

Although former CBFC chairman Anupam Kher has said that there is no corruption in the body, some of its decisions are baffling. Leela Samson has been accused of not attending meetings in the last 9 months and not taking any steps to improve the working of the CBFC. If Pahlaj Nihalani, being a filmmaker and being close to the ruling party, can bring the industry on board to streamline the processes and bring about transparency, it would encourage the formation of an independent board. But with the Hindutva elements raising their heads on every platform, there is a danger that the new appointees would toe the saffron line and stop the liberal view the CBFC has been taking for the last few years.

That would be a real tragedy. For, with the internet now in every palm, we do not need censors who are prudes. We need censors who examine films only to see that they do not violate the laws of the land, specifically Article 19(2) of the Constitution and the various sections of the CrPC spawned by it. Their prime duty should be to certify films for viewership by age according to the content.