Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Relevance of CBFC

The controversy about Aarakshan has raised the question of relevance of CBFC. Once CBFC certifies a film there should be no problem about its release anywhere in India. However many people without seeing the film want the film to be banned. Some want special screening for them. It is bad for anyone to do that but worse when people in power do that. It is unpardonable for the home minister of state to say that films should be shown to certain politicians. It is unpardonable for other ministers to demand special screening and they will decide what should be shown. States should have no power to ban a CBFC certified film and those who create law and order problem should be strictly dealt with.

Many years back Sunil Gavaskar had said “Hindi films are made by asses for masses.”  At that time most Hindi films followed a formula. There was one hero, one heroine, one villain and some supporting characters. Hero loved heroine, villain came in between them and finally hero won. There were half a dozen songs and fights. Such films did not face any controversy. TV was black and white, restricted to a few cities for a few hours during night.

TV turned colour and channels proliferated. People who watched TV came to know about films to be released and those who protested about any song or film got publicity. Many films got into trouble.

P. L. Punia, Chairperson of National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, summoned chairperson and CEO of CBFC and demanded the screening of the film. He asserted his authority under article 338 of the Constitution. The Commission originally did not have powers of a civil court and it got them after 65th amendment in 1990.

The release of Aarakshan was challenged in Bombay High Court which cleared the film. Leela Samson, chairperson of CBFC, said since the High Court has cleared the film she cannot make any changes.

Prakash Jha said Aarakshan is not about reservation, it is not pro-reservation or anti-reservation but about commercialization of education.  In that case he chose the wrong title and wrong promos. He succumbed to pressure and showed the film to some politicians and agreed to cuts. He said he had spent 60 crore rupees on film. Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh banned the film. In Punjab seven members of a committee selected to view the film took their family members and relatives with them.

Amitabh Bachchan questioned whether India is a democracy or a fascist state.  To call India a fascist state is an insult to fascist states. In fascist states people who oppose a film certified by a government body are put behind bars. India is a mobocracy.

The producer has to recover the money in the first week. After that pirated DVDs appear. People in states where the film is banned will be able to get them and watch the film. The ban will cause loss to the producer but people will watch the film anyway.

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