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Allow film industry to evolve its certification policy Allow film industry to evolve its certification policy

Jan-17-2015 | 0 Comments


Prakash Belawadi | film and theatre personality

This is a story of many surprise twists. The first real surprise is not that Bharatanatyam dancer Leela Samson has resigned as chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) citing interference from the information & broadcasting ministry, but that she and her fellow board members survived on it for so long under the NDA government.

Strangely enough, the ministry had given an extension to Samson and her board of 17 members in September 2014. That extension seems to have been stretched till now, when, finally, something snapped. The term of Samson and her board, appointed by the UPA government in 2011, had already expired in June last year. The extension, therefore, came as a surprise to the board members themselves, who had all believed their term was over.

The lame-duck CBFC was already in trouble, with its CEO arrested in August 2014 on charges of accepting bribes to certify films. The members had been complaining of shortage of staff and neglect of CBFC by the ministry under the UPA regime.

Finally, most absurdly, Samson has resigned not because the I&B ministry has blocked a film, but that it cleared it. A few days ago, after CBFC had refused certification to a film by controversial godman Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, titled 'Messenger of God', it was Samson herself that had referred it to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). She now seems upset that it was cleared by the tribunal.

From whichever side you want to see it, the CBFC -- the way it is now -- is an anachronism; its opinions seem immature and biased. Nobody is surprised the government interferes, if it indeed did. The way out is to allow the film industry to evolve a certification policy and code of its own.

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