Eager to avoid a brush with controversy over the appointment of new members to the central board of film certification (CBFC), the Centre is taking its time to pick “suitable” names to fill the positions that have fallen vacant.
According to senior officials in the information and broadcasting ministry, the censor board, which should not have more than 25 members, currently has only 18. While there is no word yet on who the probable candidates are for vacant positions, sources said the government is taking a “considered view” to finalise appointments.
Having burnt its fingers with the appointment of controversial filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani as the chairman of Board, the government wants to steer clear of embroilment. Earlier in 2015, the Information and Broadcast Ministry was accused of “interference and coercion” by Leela Samson who resigned from the top post followed by the resignation of 12 other members from the Board.
The government has had to face discomfiture over its decision to appoint Nihalani as the head of the CBFC, as he courted controversy by wielding the scissors too frequently and ordering bleeping out of cuss words, shortening of kissing scenes in a James Bond movie and more recently for a ‘UA’ certification for the children’s film Jungle Book.
The Centre has also drawn up a long list of women from across the country who will be assigned to advisory panels of the CBFC.
As per the Cinamatography Act, women have to be part of the advisory panels, which screen films, trailers and advertisement before they are certified and cleared for screening. At least two women have to be part of the panel for the screening of a 70-minute feature film.
“As many as 1700 feature films apply for certification; we need women in every advisory panel at all regional centres. These women are drawn from a cross section of society and have a fixed term of two years,” an official said.
The government is also looking at increasing the remuneration paid to the members of the advisory panels. Currently they are not entitled to any salary, but are paid Rs 1,000 as allowance.
The Shyam Benegal Committee appointed by the government to suggest making the cinematography act simpler, in the first report submitted on Tuesday has also suggested that all regional advisory panels should have 50 percent representation by women.
It has suggested that regional advisory panel should have 25 % members from all walks of life, recommended by the National Film Development Corporation to the Centre, 25% members of the general public recommended by the Federation of Film Societies of India, and an equal number recommended by the National Council for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and National Commission of Women (NCW).