What does the CBFC do
It is a statutory body under the I&B ministry to regulate the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952 and the Cinematograph (Certification) Rules 1983. Over 1,000 films apply every year.
Why does certification matter?
Only after that can a film be publicly exhibited in India. Films are rated U (unrestricted), U/A (unrestricted, but with parental discretion advised for children below 12), A (adults only) or S (restricted to any special class of persons). U or U/A means wider access; A-rated films can’t be shown on TV unless they apply for a re-certification with cuts. The Dirty Picture was edited, but still pulled off prime time on satellite hours before its premiere, and asked to air late night.
How can it involve corruption?
If a certification is delayed until just before the release date, producers can only pay their way out. Investigating agencies also suspect bribery in films being allowed to retain content that may have faced deletion.
How is the board structured?
Headquartered at Mumbai, it is headed by a chairperson and has 12 to 25 non-official members, eminent persons from a cross-section of society appointed by the Centre for a period of three years. Its nine regional offices (Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Cuttack and Guwahati) are assisted by advisory panels whose members have two-year tenures.
How is a film certified?
It is submitted to a regional officer, who forms an examining committee. Many films are cleared at this stage, with or without modifications. If an applicant is not satisfied with the decision, the matter then goes to headquarters which can then set up a revising committee of board members who decide by majority vote. If the chairperson doesn’t agree with the majority view, he/she may may appoint another revising committee. If deletions are ordered, the applicant has to submit the film a second time. If the applicant is still not satisfied, he can approach the Delhi-based Film Certification Appellate Tribunal headed by a retired judge.