Shashi Tharoor wants government interference curbed in film certification, introduces Cinematograph Amendment Bill

In the bill, Tharoor urges the powers government has on censoring film content to be curbed. He argues that safeguarding of artistic freedom is integral for the development of our culture and democray

Published: 07th August 2018 02:05 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th August 2018 02:35 PM   |  A+A-

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor. (File | PTI)

By Online Desk

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor introduced the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2018 in the Parliament on Friday.

In the bill, Tharoor urges the powers government has on censoring film content to be curbed. He argues that the safeguarding of artistic freedom is integral to the development of our culture and democracy.

The bill will remove the pre-censorship powers of the Central Board of Film Certification.

READ Shashi Tharoor's tweet here: 

"On Friday, I introduced my Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to remove the outdated provisions which hamper the free flow of free speech, especially artistic freedom. The protection of artistic freedom is essential for the development of our culture & our democracy.

CBFC should act only as a certification body, not as a censorship body. Its censorship powers (& the Govt's power to revise its decisions as to whether a film should be screened or not) reflect a regressive & paternalistic outlook which is out of date in the 21st century. The existing guidelines for certification are broad & vague, allowing the CBFC to pass absurd orders such as muting individual words of dialogue, like the term ‘cow’ in a documentary on Amartya Sen.

My Bill introduces comprehensive guidelines for gradation in film certification. My Bill also removes the discretionary powers of the State to ban films. The State should only resort to the power of suspension of films as a last resort in order to maintain public order. We should not be held hostage by vigilante groups & self-appointed 'moral police'."

Chairman of Central Board of Film Certification, Prasoon Joshi. (File)

Currently, the India's film certification body has the below rating systems:

U: Unrestricted public exhibition
A: Adults only (above the age of 18)
U / A: Mostly unrestricted with a few scenes requiring parental guidance
S: Restricted to a special class of people

But the board can also completely refuse to certify the film. The move can make the movie unavailable for theatres to screen.

According to a PTI report, the CBFC denied certificates to 77 films in 2015-2016 and 125 films in 2016-2017.

The CBFC can deny certificate on various grounds.

Earlier, the CBFC has landed in controversies when it had tried to enforce cuts in films like Anand Patwardhan's documentary 'War and Peace' and 'Udta Punjab' in 2016.  

The board also had 'refused' to certify 'Lipstick Under My Burkha' for which it gave the reason as "The story is lady-oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contagious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society."

A still from Lipstick Under My Burkha.

The filmmakers appealed against the decision to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, which overruled the censor board's ruling, thereby granting the film theatrical release rights. The movie was released with an 'A' certificate.

Other films which were denied certificate by the CBFC include MS Sathyu's 'Garm Hawa', 'Satyajit Ray's 'Sikkim', Shekhar Kapur's 'Bandit Queen', 'Fire', 'Paanch', 'Black Friday', 'Water', 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', '50 Shades of Grey' and 'Mohalla Assi'.


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  • Bapi Ghosh

    Censorship on the artistic freedom is a policy of a uncivilised nation. As a great civilised nation, india should not stand by such a nasty policy.
    2 years ago reply
    • commenter

      between the gau rakshas, lynchings, and gang rapes, what evidence is there that india is civilized?
      2 years ago reply
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