From smoking and drinking on screen to the age of censors who certify films for public viewing,various thorny issues between the film fraternity and the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) were thrashed out on Thursday at a meeting in a suburban hotel that saw a lively discussion on censorship.
While Sharmila Tagore,chairperson of the CBFC,and Pankaja Thakur,CEO of the CBFC,along with other board members represented the Board; the film producer fraternity was represented by Rajkumar Hirani,Ashutosh Gowariker,Aamir Khan,Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra,Mukesh Bhatt,Ramesh Sippy,Zoya Akhtar,Ristesh Sidhwani and Vikas Bahl of UTV.
At the start of the discussion,Tagore clearly stated the interest of the CBFC. The idea is not to criticise. We have been given a mandate which we have to follow, she said.
The discussion started with Bhatt and Khan appealing to cut down the age of panel members to below 50. The panel members should be reflective of our society. Their ideas should be progressive, said Bhatt. Khan felt someone as young as 21 should also be considered for the panel.
While Tagore agreed with a need for progressive outlook of panel members,she wasnt in favour of really young people making it to the panel. At 21,you would rather be studying, she said.
Censorship issues about smoking and drinking on screen,the confusion over the names of cities (for instance Bombay vs Mumbai),rating certificates and treatment of animals were also discussed. While Tagore said the discussion between the Information & Broadcasting Ministry and the Health Ministry was still going on regarding the issue of smoking on celluloid,Khan suggested the lead actor of each movie,which shows him smoking,should give out an anti-smoking ad before the movie starts.
Akhtar refuted that idea,saying: We are not legislators. We are here to make films. So why should we be socially responsible for things happening in society?
The producers also appealed for a rating that would also allow 15 year olds to watch certain movies otherwise rated A. There are certain films which are A-rated but can be watched by a 15-year-old. Hence,we should have various categories of rating certificates, said Khan.
This suggestion was made three years ago,said Tagore,while adding: We were waiting for Parliament to clear the Bill.
She also proposed to the producers to ask for the setting up of more animal welfare boards. There is only one in Chennai now. So the setting up of more will help sort out animal-related issues.
Bahl of UTV appealed to the Board to clear a cut for the prints of movies which will be sent abroad and grant a provisional certificate. Sidhwani seconded him,The prints we send to the UK,US and Australia undergo the censor scanner of their country. There isnt any point for us to wait for the final cut because it doesnt matter to those countries.
Thakur,at the end of the discussion,requested producers to bring their film to the Board in advance so that things could go on at a smooth pace.