CBFC can’t take 68 days to certify a film: Bollywood filmmakers

The Censor Board has brought back focus on the 68 day-rule, which states that it is the required period by them to pass a judgement on the film. We talk to Bollywood filmmakers, who are already concerned about how this rule is going to affect films in the future.
Padmavati’s release might have been delayed due to political tensions, but fingers have been raised at Censor Board’s 68-day rule too.
Padmavati’s release might have been delayed due to political tensions, but fingers have been raised at Censor Board’s 68-day rule too.
Published on Nov 24, 2017 05:34 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByRishabh Suri, New Delhi

The release of filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ambitious project, Padmavati, which was to release on December 1, has been postponed by the makers. This is following protests by factions that feel that a part of Rajput history has been distorted in this film. But, besides the protests, the film has also run into trouble with the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), which has invoked the 68-day rule just before the film’s initially planned release date. The rule implies that the Board needs at least 68 days to certify a film. The Board has suddenly put into effect this rule which apparently existed all these years, but was never applied.

Anurag Srivastav, CEO of CBFC, tells us, “The rule has always been there, but there has been so much of clamour that films are not getting released in time. We are not necessarily going to take 68 days, matter of fact, we are certifying much earlier. But if people say they have a release tomorrow or day after and they have applied today, it becomes difficult for us. The number of applications are huge, especially in Mumbai, there’s so much backlog. We never said we will not certify before 68 days, it all depends on the manpower and theatres available, since we have to view the films.”

But Bollywood filmmakers argue that this rule is going to affect the process of making films, since in some cases, a release date is announced, but the post-production work is so much that the film gets completed just days before the release.

Filmmaker Gauri Shinde
Filmmaker Gauri Shinde

Gauri Shinde, whose film Dear Zindagi had run into trouble last year due to the ban on Pakistani artists (Ali Zafar had a role in the film), says, “The process of making a film and finding a release date is in itself difficult. Today, filmmakers choose release dates in advance, festivals like Eid and Diwali are already taken, so small films hardly have any hope. The way things are going, I hope we don’t stop making films! For anything to start, some prior notice has to be given, like we will implement this from 2018. Doing it suddenly is detrimental to everyone involved with the film.”

Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia
Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia

Tigmanshu Dhulia, who has directed acclaimed films such as Paan Singh Tomar adds, “Filmmaking is an uncertain business, as dates keep getting shuffled, there are so many things- artists’ dates, the studio, sometimes the film gets ready just one week before the release!”

Director Hansal Mehta
Director Hansal Mehta

Hansal Mehta says, “I don’t know how practical that is. It is not a great time for filmmakers, because you are being given open threats by fringe groups, and there is inaction from the government. Procedural strategies are being used to delay the release so that this ‘problem’ goes away. It won’t, unless some affirmative action takes place.” He also adds that things had been smooth till now. “In the past, we got our certificates, CBFC had been functioning efficiently, there’s no reason to take 68 days. In London, when you send your film for certification, it is done in that week itself, why should we be lagging behind?”

The CBFC has said that the application submitted by Padmavati’s makers was incomplete, which further delayed the film. Surprisingly, this seems to have affected only Padmavati, since soon after it’s announcement, sources from the Board have said the rule has been relaxed for those films whose release dates were announced in advance. This was done so that they don’t miss their release dates. Anurag clarifies, “Padmavati’s makers had not mentioned the disclaimer, whether the film is fiction, or based on facts and history, they have to put it there completely. We need to know what their stand is (in the film). For examination purposes, we need to know what they are saying.”

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