Ban or only certify films? Panelists discuss CBFC’s role

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) At a time when many celebrities from the entertainment industry are demanding big changes in the certification process of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), a panel discussion was held at the 7th Jagran Film Festival here to examine its role in the current era.

Filmmaker Sudhir Mishra along with BJP spokesperson Sudhanshu Trivedi, CBFC member Vani Tripathi and journalist Kaveree Bamzai discussed whether CBFC is regulating films way beyond its parameters and if it is the correct time to make changes in its rules and regulations.

BJP-appointed Pahlaj Nihalani, chief of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), the controversy regarding “Udta Punjab” and role of the central government in censor board were some of the topics that the panelists put light upon in the discussion titled ‘Is cinema over regulated?’

Talking about the role of the censor board, Tripathi said: “CBFC is not a censor but a certification body. I have been its member since last two years. The process (of certification) is very complicated and it’s not a monolith. There is not just one person who decides the certification of a film. We are only there to certify a film and not cut it. The word ‘ban’ is not at all part of the vocabulary of CBFC”.

Trivedi said that cinema has a big influence on the audience, that’s why a regulatory body is need of the hour.

Comparing media with films, Trivedi added: “There is a difference between news and the impact of cinema. Earlier we used to say that literature is a mirror of the society. But I feel today cinema is a mirror of the society”.

“The impact that films have on children is not the same when they read news. So when there is a medium which is influencing our perception towards the society, then there should be a regulatory body which can keep an eye on it. We should looks out that what message the film is spreading,” he added.

Speaking on the industry’s behalf, acclaimed filmmaker and screenwriter Sudhir Mishra said discussions between the common people, fimmakers and the government can only help towards improving the standards of CBFC.

“There are various ways of looking at cinema. All films are fiction. They are a point of view. An artist shouldn’t take on the responsibility of showing a direction to the society. This is not his job. His job is to pop questions and to leave a message with his work. He is not there to influence others,” Mishra said.

“CBFC should be a certification body. I think there should be a lot of conversation about it. That’s what is interesting in society where films like ‘Housefull’ or ‘Mastizaade’ will put up another kind of debate. Finally people have to start rejecting films that they don’t wish to watch,” he added.

During the discussion, Tripathi said the revising committee is a welcome change as the rules followed by CBFC are very old and not changed over the time.

“We as a board work under the 1952 Cinematograph Act, the guidelines of which need to be badly amended and redrafted. The collaboration has to happen between the industry and the policy. Otherwise we will be fighting. I feel why we are talking about this now is because we are revisiting something that is creating issues,” Tripathi said.

Giving a journalistic view point on the issue, Bamzai said: “All governments, regardless of which party is in power, want to control movies and media. The BJP may have particularly ham-handed it. They don’t have the finesse of the Congress government”.

He said that technology has “outstripped” movie-making to such a degree that it really doesn’t matter.

“It’s just a question of revenue. If ‘Udta Punjab’ had been released with the 89 cuts (that CBFC asked for), then also people would have watched (the uncensored version) anyway. I don’t know whether Nihalani knows that we are living in the internet age.”

The five-day Delhi leg of the Jagran Film Festival, which kicked off on Friday, will end on July 5.

–IANS

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