Subjected for long to the whims and fancies of the censor board, film viewers in India now have an opportunity to express what they would like to watch and what not.
An expert committee, constituted early this month to recommend broad guidelines and procedures for film certification, has sought to rope in all stakeholders including film-makers, non-government organisations and ordinary people in the process.
The six-member committee headed by noted film-maker Shyam Benegal has decided to wait for the feedback and study it before making any recommendations.
“We are looking into all aspects. We will get feedback from all stakeholders on what should be done. We have sent a questionnaire to the entire film industry and NGOs. We have invited public opinion. Once we get the feedback, we will apply our mind (on what to recommend in the report),” Benegal told HT.
The committee solicited the views of film viewers on the film certification process on the website of the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC).
The ministry of information and broadcasting constituted the expert committee on January 1 to provide a holistic framework for those certifying films in two months. Its members include film-maker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, ad maker Piyush Pandey, film critic Bhawana Somaaya, NFDC managing director Nina Lath Gupta, and Sanjay Murthy, joint secretary (films) in the I&B ministry.
The committee was constituted in the backdrop of a series of controversies surrounding the Pahlaj Nihalani-headed censor board, officially known as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), including a ban on cuss words and cutting of kissing scenes in the latest James Bond flick Spectre.
Asked about his remarks on Friday that “half-a-dozen people cannot determine what is right for the society and what is not”, Benegal said, “There is a need to represent the opinion of the people. Public opinion is a part of the whole exercise (that the committee has undertaken).”
As for the need to give contemporary interpretation to film certification guidelines, as suggested by information and broadcasting minister Arun Jaitley at a meeting with committee members in Mumbai recently, Benegal said, “No solution is applicable at all times. It cannot remain frozen for a hundred years. Society keeps changing and whatever you work out has to change with times…We have to go by social morality being followed by us at any given time.”
Asked if the committee would have a re-look at the system of categorising films under different head like adults or universal, the eminent film director said, “Categorisation is a better form than cutting. If you write a novel and somebody expunges some chapters, will it (the novel) be the same? Certainly not. It’s the same principle here.”
He, however, refused to field queries about the committee’s views on the raging debate on the censor board’s controversial decisions recently.
“Give us a month’s time before you ask these questions.”
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