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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Sharmila Tagore on censorship and more

Sharmila Tagore discusses the cutting edge of film censorship with Amitabh Parashar.

india Updated: Feb 05, 2007 18:50 IST
Amitabh Parashar
Amitabh Parashar

Aren’t there too many political appointees in the Central Board of Film Certfication?
I am happy with the board’s regional officers. We have approximately 360 members on the national and regional boards. Of them more than 50 per cent are political appointees. What can we do? Thankfully, there haven’t been any crisis so far. Like we didn’t face any problems with Parzania..there was no political pressure.

But why allow political appointees?
I suppose it is to oblige somebody. It is a status symbol to be on the Board...Committee members should be appointed on the criterion of their sensitivity to cinema.

We have to see films by Mani Ratnam, Meera Nair, Goutam Ghose and, Aparna Sen . We have to certify important films like Babel and The Departed. We need to look at their content seriously.

I know the public perception is that politically connected members cannot do their jobs.. Recently, a majority of the appointees in a regional censor advisory panel was from a particular political party (read Congress).

At times, they reside out of say Pune..and he or she has to travel all the way to Bombay . To censor a film in Cochin, a member may have to travel a distance of 300 kilomeres..and we don’t even pay a decent traveling allowance.

Sharmila Tagore is the Chairperson of the Censor Board of Film Certification.

There was a proposal to induct housewives and children on the censor panels. What happened?

We should have psychiatrists, doctors and police people . We should have this point there is no member of the Sikh community on the panel. Many Sikhs have complained that they haven’t been properly depicted in certain films.

At times, the man-woman ratio isn’t satisfactory either. To answer your question, housewives bring their particular perspectives.But I must tell you that we have doctors, journalists and politicians. They are also relevant. Sometimes political films come to us. We need their expertise. I am not rubbishing them. But I can’t deny that there are many more political appointees than warranted.

What are your views on the recent ban of the AXN channel?
It doesn't really involve us.. And the Information and Broadcasting Ministry is not obliged to consult me on this and they haven't. I only know that AXN must have not complied with the rules and regulations..

Since 1995, Cable TV Network act has been there but no one was following it. Till the Pratibha Nathani case happened, the police raided some cable operators and there was a black-out of channels. Even I’d complained against such programmes like Bikini Destinations.

Questions are being raised why Vinod Pande's film Red Swastik has been given an 'A' certificate?
Mr Pande is obviously staging a publicity stunt. I was also asked why Omkara was given an A certificate when it was a family picture? I told them Omkara was not a family picture.

Mr Pande’s film was given an A certificate because that was what we felt..and he’s trying to create controversy out of it, abuse our officers and make us look like laughing stock.

The lack of an infrastructure at the Censor Board is an important issue. What are your demands?
Because of the Mumbai High Court ruling ,we have the additional responsibility of watching films for television now. This is a huge amount of work,considering the number of films we see every week to be aired on movie channels. And take our Chennai office, it operates in a 1500 square feet area. We need more space, more staff.

Have the issues with the Animal Welfare Board been sorted?
Yes, it has been settled. The film producer has to get an NOC from the Animal Welfare Board if he has shown animals in his film. We clear the film only after that..

Earlier there was a confusion, filmmakers didn’t know that they had to get clearance from the Animal Welfare Board. Goutam Ghose had complained, " I didn't know the animal board thing." This ignorance won’t work anymore.

On another note, which films are you acting in?
I haven’t found a script that excites me in recent times. I told Nagesh Kukunoor that I would do any role in his film. I would have done the role of the dadi in his Dor which I liked so much. I would love to work with directors like Nagesh, Vishal Bhardwaj and Pradeep Sarkaar.

First Published: Feb 05, 2007 18:50 IST