Shabana Azmi has always been vocal about things that bother her. While talking about the problems faced by Bollywood thanks to censorship, the veteran actress made a very important point. At the Delhi premiere of her international film The Black Prince, when she was asked if she would ever take charge of the Censor Board, as actors Asha Parekh, Sharmila Tagore and Anupam Kher have done in the past, Shabana Azmi replied that firstly, it shouldn’t be called Censor Board and that it’s actually called Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). She added that CBFC is here to certify films and censoring is not its prerogative.
She then added that the Cinematograph Act of 1952 needs serious revision. Senior filmmaker Shyam Benegal has already submitted some radical changes but the government hasn’t passed it yet. Shabana Azmi said that filmmakers should have the freedom to decide whether they are open to any cuts.
Elaborating more on the Shyam Benegal Committee which prepared the report, Shabana Azmi said that she agrees with the report that the certifying system needs to change drastically. She pointed out that previously, even Justice Mukul Mudgal panel, comprising of her hubby Javed Akhtar, had suggested many changes.
Shabana Azmi also openly said that even though CBFC is considered to be an autonomous body, one can’t ignore the fact that the ones who are a part of it have some kind of affinity with the ruling party. This, she believed, was not good for any country’s art.
Shabana Azmi is impressed with the way Motion Picture Association of America works. She explained that there, a filmmaker decides whether to accept the suggested cuts for a universal release, or to choose a more restricted certification.
On the film front, besides The Black Prince, Shabana Azmi was recently seen in small-budget films, Manika Sharma’s The Wishing Tree and Aparna Sen’s Sonata, but both sank without a trace. She left a deep impact last year in the biopic Neerja, co-starring Sonam Kapoor, and directed by Ram Madhvani.