- The Indian film industry represented by the hugely popular Hindi cinema, also known as Bollywood and equally renowned regional industries has been an inalienable part of the country for decades now. Ever since the first talkie movie was screened, motion movies have not only gained tremendous acceptance amongst the patrons but also have contributed immensely to propping the country’s soft power globally. Scores of artists representing various film industries from across the country’s cinematic landscape have attained cult status and enjoy an unbelievable following amongst millions of fans who treat them as no less than demi-gods.
PC: Manav Gyanchandani
- As in any industry, the film industry has had its share of challenges in the form of attacks on cinematic liberty on the pretext of hurting religious sentiments, ostensibly fomenting communal hatred, screening unacceptable misogynistic viewpoints, depicting controversial characters loosely based on political/colorful personalities, inviting wraths from religious sects and leaders, for encouraging obscenity/vulgarity to titillate audiences, fundamentalists crying hoarse over innocuous storyline/portrayal, and the list is quite exhaustive. As is the norm, films are to be certified by the respective Censor Board of Film Certification before allowing the screening for the audience.
- Here too, the film team comprising of producers, financiers, director, actors, and other related people associated with the project undergo tremendous pressure for anything other than certifying universally fit for screening by the Censor Board. Other certifications like Adult only would severely dent the prospects of the film from making decent to huge profits. Yes, there is any number of controversies arising out of the decisions emanating from the Censor Boards’ certifying processes including recommendations to delete/alter certain portions. Such cases were invariably referred to Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) for adjudication and/or granting relief on the matter.
PC: Shivangini Pandey
- There are several occasions when the decision of the Censor Boards has been reversed by the Appellate Tribunal upholding the film creator’s contention to continue without any alterations. Equally, there is any number of cases when the Tribunal has upheld the Censor Board’s recommendations as well. The fact of the matter is there was a mechanism to address contentious issues by the authority above the Censor Board and the film industry was quite satisfied with the arrangement. In a regressive move now, the Union Government has decided to scrap the FCAT which is nothing but a huge bodily blow to the country’s film fraternity.
- In an ordinance notified earlier this month, the Government amended the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to clarify that aggrieved filmmakers by the decision of the Censor Board from now on will have to approach the high courts which is tantamount to an unrealistic and infeasible move only meant to exacerbate the problems of filmmakers. As we are aware, the high courts are already grappling under a huge deluge of pending cases and struggling to dispose of them in a time-bound manner. It is incomprehensible to see how the high courts will be able to pay attention to film certification issues besides burdened by the mounting litigations. Therefore, the government should rescind the ordinance and restore the appellate tribunal to perform its role as before.