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Monday, August 02, 2021

‘Bid to thwart freedom of expression’: Film associations oppose govt plan to amend law

This proposed amendment is seen by the industry associations as an attempt to thwart "freedom of expression and creativity", apart from "harassment".

Written by Alaka Sahani | Mumbai |
Updated: July 5, 2021 6:28:12 pm
‘Bid to thwart freedom of expression’: Film associations oppose govt plan to amend lawThis proposed amendments is seen by the industry associations as an attempt to thwart "freedom of expression and creativity", apart from "harassment".

The proposal to amend Cinematograph Act, and the revisionary power that’s sought to be provided to the Centre, faced strong opposition from six major film industry organisations and two students’ associations of film institutes on Friday.

On June 18, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had sought public comments on the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which proposes to penalise film piracy with a jail term and fine, introduce age-based certification, and empower the Centre to order re-certification of an already certified film following receipt of complaints.

Friday was the last day for the public to send their comments on the amendments proposed.

In a joint representation, the Producers Guild of India (PGI), Indian Film and Television Producers’ Council (IFTPC), Indian Motion Pictures Producers’ Association (IMPPA), Western India Film Producers’ Association (WIFPA), Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE), and the Indian Film and Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA) conveyed their reservation.

Student associations of the Film and Television Institute of India, Pune, and Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata, also issued a joint statement, opposing the Bill, as it would “introduce more censorship, both in new films as well as those which have been made and certified previously”.

This proposed amendments is seen by the industry associations as an attempt to thwart “freedom of expression and creativity”, apart from “harassment”.

Filmmaker and IFTDA president Ashoke Pandit told The Indian Express: “We have the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which looks at movies and certifies them. The possibility of the government recalling a film, even after it has been certified, has created insecurities among (film) makers and producers. In the past, we have had the experience of anyone from any part of the country filing a case against a film. This causes a huge loss, as a lot of money is invested in movies.”

Pandit pointed out that members of CBFC come from different walks of life.

Demanding that the proposal be “withdrawn”, B N Tiwari, president of FWICE, said: “Once a film is released and someone raises an objection, it often comes as a huge setback to the producer. If the film’s screening is stalled, it is certified once again and then re-released, it would find it difficult to draw an audience. Re-releases never work.”

If the draft law affects film production, “it would impact workers of the entertainment industry — such a rule would lead to harassment of producers”, Tiwari said. He suggested that the government can think of doing away with censorship and let the audience decide if they wish to watch anything.

Even though the entertainment industry has often been criticised for not taking a united stand, TIwari said that this time they would “jointly oppose the move to amend the Act” .

Calling it a “grave situation,” Pandit said, “The industry is feeling insecure. We don’t want to be scapegoats in votebank politics.”

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