Good things don’t come cheap… freedom of expression is one of those things: Pankaja Thakur (IANS Interview)

New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS) Pankaja Thakur, filmmaker and former chief of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), feels that the Indian government is making various efforts to improve the functioning of the censor board. But she says that art and cinema are not a priority for any government and that’s why it will take time to for the changes to kick in.

“Government is doing a lot of things to make changes in CBFC. They have already revamped it with the Shyam Benegal Committee. The committee has already given its recommendation and the government is looking into it,” Thakur told IANS in an interview.

“It’s not that easy. Anything that’s an Act needs the nod of Parliament to make any changes in it; the bill has to be passed by both the houses.

“Art and cinema are not priority for any government, not just in India. But if you will keep making noise and keep approaching the correct people, then I am sure people will be successful,” she added.

In recent times, a lot of filmmakers and others in the entertainment industry have lashed out at CBFC for its harsh behaviour towards their films. But Pankaja feels that rather than complaining, filmmakers should use their right to freedom of expression and keep their demands in front of the censor board.

“Filmmakers should fight for their films. Good things don’t come cheap. So freedom of expression is one of those things. Films are an extremely powerful medium.

“There is no point in complaining that they are not allowing me this or that. No one is going to allow you. You have to get it yourself,” Pankaja said.

“As a filmmaker, I never had the fear of CBFC in my mind when I was writing or shooting. I know people who are pushing the envelope of content are facing problems, but they will have to take it up with people who matter and fight it out,” she added.

After a lot of people demanded changes in the Cinematograph Act of 1952, the central government appointed the Shyam Benegal Committee earlier this year.

Talking about her expectations from it, Pankaja said: “The biggest expectation is that whatever they have suggested is put in practice. If you do that, then that would be excellent.

“We have had too many suggestions. There were the Justice Mudgal Committee recommendations. That was also a very well researched. It’s time now to get down and do something about the recommendations rather than getting different committees to recommend new things.”

Pankaja, who earlier directed the short film “The Guide”, feels that more than government intervention, independent cinema requires private investors to back them in making films.

“There are only a few ways through which government can help independent filmmakers. It is doing its part by setting up NFDC, Children’s Film Society, etc. Even state governments are playing their part,” she said.

“Independent films are getting recognition. Even the quality of these films has improved greatly. I am talking about regional cinema. Their quality has improved and they are now getting more screens and earning more money. In the last six-seven years, independent cinema has found a place for itself,” she added.

On her career front, Pankaja will soon start working on her debut feature film. “The pre-production begins in March. The set-up of the film is rural and I am looking to shooting either in Jharkhand or Bihar,” she said.

“It is about an autistic child in a rural area. People don’t understand what autism is. He is fascinated by music. The film centres on the child,” she added.

(Sandeep Sharma can be contacted at Sandeep.s@ians.in)

–IANS

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