Navketan International Films' CENSOR, directed by Dev Anand, is a satire on film censorship in India!
Vikramjeet's (Dev Anand) new film 'Aanewala Kal' is okayed by the Examining Committee (Rekha, Jackie Shroff, Mamta Kulkarni, Amrish Puri, Smita Jaykar, Nikhil Kapoor) of the Central Board of Film Certification with 13 cuts and an 'A' certificate.
However, Vikramjeet insists on a 'U' certificate for the film. He later screens the film for the I. & B. Minister (Shivaji Satam), who adds five more cuts to the film. A defeated Vikramjeet then approaches the Mumbai High Court for justice.
Prior to the screening for the censors, Vikramjeet organises a public screening of the film and records the comments of the people from all walks of life. Among the audience is a leading member of the Academy Awards Committee, Margaret (Archana Puransingh), who takes a great liking for the film and lobbies for the film's nomination in the Academy Awards.
The print of the film is smuggled to Los Angeles and wonder of wonders, the film walks away with two Oscars ? best foreign language film and best director. When the news reaches the Censor Board, it files a case against Vikramjeet -- of smuggling the film to Hollywood without having it censored in India.
Back home, Vikramjeet appears before the judge (Shammi Kapoor) to defend himself. In the end, the judge passes a crucial judgement that the country needs to review its censor policy.
The premise of this Dev Anand enterprise ? film censorship ? is novel and hasn't been tackled on Indian screen before. The story brings to the fore the problems faced by a film producer while dealing with the censors. Unfortunately, the drawback with a story like this is that people within the film industry, not outside the business, can identify with it.
The narration is not etched out properly in the first half. There is an overdose of titillation while trying to tell the story of 'Aanewala Kal'. Moreover, too much footage is devoted to the dual standards adopted by three members of the Examining Committee (Jackie, Mamta, Amrish Puri), which was just not required. Besides looking far-fetched, these sequences are crude as well.
Besides these portions, the first half sees half-a-dozen stars making one-minute appearances in inconsequential roles. Performers like Randhir Kapoor, Mukesh Khanna, Mukul Dev, Sharad Kapoor, Pooja Batra and Govinda have, perhaps, been added to enhance the face-value of the film, more than anything else. But they fail to register any kind of an impact.
The film gets attention-grabbing towards the second half. The courtroom scenes are the best part of the film and the confrontations between Dev Anand-Amrish Puri initially and Dev Anand-Raj Babbar later are well executed. The concluding reels, when Dev Anand bags two Oscars and the speech he delivers, is equally impressive. But all said and done, the film is too talk heavy and needs to be abridged by at least 25 minutes.
Writer-director Dev Anand seems to have focussed the entire film on himself. He dominates the show (expectedly!), while the rest are relegated to the background. As an actor, his enthusiasm needs to be lauded, though he does tend to get loud at places. The veteran also needs a pat for choosing a theme that is shades different from the run-of-the-mill yarn produced in the recent past.
The film has an array of character artistes, but it is Rekha who stands out with a competent performance that is modelled after a real-life character. Hema Malini is wasted. Jackie Shroff, Mamta Kulkarni and Amrish Puri are okay in negative roles. Amongst newcomers, it is Raja who can be singled out.
Dev Anand's direction is old-fashioned. Jatin-Lalit's music is humdrum. 'Is Tarah Dekho Na Humko' is the sole number that can be singled out. Cinematography (Adeep Tandon) is alright. Dialogues are well penned. Editing is jerky.
On the whole, not much is expected from CENSOR, which is an ordinary film in all respects and its box-office prospects seem ordinary as well.