Members of the film fraternity today erupted into a debate about the process of film certification in the country, calling for a revamp in the constitution of the CBFC and The Cinematograph Act of 1952. Industry stalwarts like Mukesh Bhatt, Ramesh Sippy, Shyam Benegal, Sudhir Mishra and Shabana Azmi discussed the controversial topic with Leela Samson, Chairperson of CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), at the CII Media and Entertainment Summit 2012 here.
"The Cinematograph Act is of 1952, but we are now living in a different world altogether. The act needs to be changed to suit modern times. Also, filmmakers need to know what is the yard-stick for film ratings - what kind of content is deemed 'A'-rated or 'U' or 'U/A'," said Mukesh.
Shabana Azmi called for an adoption of the American method of choosing Board members, saying the UK format which is being followed in India currently is not working. "The problem lies with the way the Board is constituted and the people who exercise the guidelines for film certification. We are proposing the American model where the filmmaker decides what certificate they want for their film," said Azmi.
Raising the question of the freedom of speech, director Sudhir Mishra said, "If a film is free speech, then is censorship tenable? Why is sex deemed as adult content when violence isn't? We need a revamp of the guidelines, the way Javed Akhtar fought for the Copyright Act."
Samson, who took over as the chairperson of CBFC last year, said the Board neither makes the guidelines, nor the films, but receive flak from both filmmakers and the government. "Directors makes the films, the government makes the rules, we don't have a say. The ban on smoking onscreen was decided by the health ministry, but we had to execute it. I feel the government didn't want to get involved, so they made a punching bag for the film industry to bash.
"Members of the film industry should be more involved and approach the Board in case of a problem. We want to work towards certification, not be trapped in censorship," she said.
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