In an unprecedented move the CBFC’s Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (a.k.a the Tribunal) summoned filmmaker Onir to Delhi and asked that he show them his earlier films before certifying his latest work Shab for a television viewing.
Though Onir can breathe a sigh of relief for his film Shab getting away with just two minor cuts for its television premiere, it has not been easy for him to get that ‘UA’ certification which is mandatory for television broadcast of a feature film.
Interestingly Onir had initially obtained an ‘A’ certificate for his film. He explains, “For its theatrical release I preferred an ‘Adults Only’ certification with no cuts. But for the film to be screened on television I had to get a ‘UA’ certificate. And for a ‘UA’ I was willing to take cuts.”
When the CBFC under its newly-appointed chairperson Prasoon Joshi refused to grant Shab a ‘UA’ with cuts for its television broadcast, Onir flew to Delhi where the Tribunal viewed the film and refused a ‘UA’ saying the film had too many sexual themes. “The Tribunal told me my film had crammed everything from homosexuality, to bisexuality, to male prostitution to adultery. Some of this was not even in my film. But I let it go. I argued that my first My Brother Nikhil was about a homosexual relationship, my Bas Ek Pal had the hero getting raped in jail, and I Am had a cop demanding sexual favours from a gay man, etc. The Tribunal was patient and understanding. They asked me to send all my films to them for viewing for referential purposes.”
Onir is not sure if the Tribunal actually got down to seeing all his films. But he did get his ‘UA’ certificate with two minor cuts. “Both heterosexual kisses were shortened for home viewing. I don’t mind,” says Onir, stressing the fact that nothing at the CBFC has changed under the new chairperson.
“They still follow the guidelines blindly, they have no choice,” says Onir.