In a massive development set to rock the Censor Board and the film industry, the monitoring body is likely to be stripped off its ‘censoring’ powers and will be left only with the authority to ‘certify’. According to Information and Broadcasting sources, the Ministry is working on major changes in the Cinematography Act and the Bill will be introduced in the Winter Session of Parliament. In the wake of the recent furore by the film industry under CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, the government has expressed its desire to avoid any further controversies.
Sources further stated the entire film certification process will be reworked and changed, adding there will be two committees: one for reviewing and the other for monitoring. The members of the two committees will also be appointed from the National Commission for Women, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights including psychologists. The films will be given certificates under following categories: U12+, U15+, A and A+ (for extreme violence and sex scenes). The monitoring committee will not clear more than two movies in a day and there will also be a ‘tatkal’ category for those producers, who want urgent clearance, provided they are ready to pay extra for it.
Money collected for certification will go to the Labour Ministry, which sends the money for welfare of the workers involved in film making. Sources added that another amendment is regarding smoking warnings, where instead of present warning during each smoking scene, the films will have to show warning in the beginning of the movie. The government says the basic idea behind the revamp is to let the people decide what they want to watch.
Nihalani recently came under attack following the harsh cuts on the controversial movie ‘Udta Punjab’, where actors and politicos joined took on the CBFC, complaining of unrealistic standards. Asserting there is no mention of the word “censor” in the CBFC, the Bombay High Court had earlier in June pulled up the board for demanding 89 cuts in ‘Udta Punjab’ to grant a certificate for its release, while directing it to use its power as per the constitutional provisions and directions issued by the Supreme Court.
The High Court observed, “There is no mention of the word ‘censor’ in the board. The board should use its powers under the constitutional framework and the Supreme Court’s directions.”