Draft bill suggests censor board’s powers to delete, modify content be curtailed | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Draft bill suggests censor board’s powers to delete, modify content be curtailed

The censor board, an autonomous body under the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, certifies films on the basis of their content.

india Updated: Jul 17, 2017 07:42 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
The Censor board has witnessed many controversies since former director Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed as its chief in January 2015.
The Censor board has witnessed many controversies since former director Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed as its chief in January 2015.(File photo)

A draft bill aimed at amending the Cinematography Act has proposed doing away with the Central Board of Film Certification’s powers to make filmmakers modify or delete the content of their projects.

Instead of truncating parts of a film, the government body – commonly known as the censor board – will give filmmakers reasons for the certification it is likely receive. They will then have the option of either accepting the board’s decision or modifying the movie to make it suitable for more universal certification. The reviewing committee of the board may be approached over any disagreement in this regard.

A committee headed by renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal had suggested that the censor board be stripped of its powers to demand excisions or modifications in a movie. The panel was set up by the government to “suggest a holistic framework for certification of films and recommend a framework that would provide efficient and transparent user-friendly services”.

The censor board, an autonomous body under the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry, certifies films on the basis of their content. The ratings range from universal to adult, and films are allowed to be screened in theatres or television only after they have been granted the requisite certification.

The body has witnessed many controversies since former director Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed as its chief in January 2015. The most recent ones pertain to Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar, an Emergency-based tale that has been asked to carry out 12 cuts, and The Argumentative Indian, a documentary on Nobel laureate Amartya Sen that was stalled for using words such as “cow”, “Hindutva” and “Gujarat”.

The Benegal report, submitted in two parts over April and August last year, became the mainstay of the exercise to revamp the Act. The draft, which was prepared by the ministry after reviewing the Benegal Committee recommendations, will be subjected to inter-ministerial consultations and then forwarded to the cabinet for approval.

Sources told HT that the draft bill also suggests adding newer categories, such as UA 12+, UA 15+ and adult-with-caution, as suggested by the Benegal committee. Besides this, it will give the central government the power to suspend the screening of a movie – instead of leaving it in the state’s control.

Union I&B minister M Venkaiah Naidu had told filmmakers last month that the government was “in agreement with most recommendations of the (Benegal) report, and every effort would be made to facilitate the amendments”.