There are conflicting reports on the functioning policies of the newly-appointed Censor Board under the chairmanship of Prasoon Joshi.
Filmmakers and producers claim the situation is as grim now as it was earlier. The people behind a small film called Dream Zindagi wonder what hit them when they were given an ‘A’ certificate with major cuts earlier this week. “They were asked to cut a lovemaking scene by fifty per cent and also a sequence showing a woman on a skipping rope by fifty per cent. In spite of these cuts, Dream Zindagi was given an ‘A’ certificate when in fact sources at the newly revamped CBFC claim that an ‘A’ certificate exempts all films from cuts. Maybe Dream Zindagi is from small unknown producer and got a raw deal. On the other hand, a film like Bhoomi from a big production house has gotten away with graphic sexual violence and leery dialogues about women and given a ‘UA’ certificate in India. In every other part of the world, Bhoomi has been seen to be unfit for children. In England, Bhoomi is restricted for viewers under 18.”
Hansal Mehta, whose Simran suffered multiple cuts, under the new Censor regime feels nothing has changed. “I’ve always maintained that we have to rise above individuals if the CBFC has to be effective. That will only be possible if the outdated guidelines that govern censorship in India are changed keeping in mind the times we live in and the digitized world we inhabit. Until that happens we will keep lamenting cuts ordered by CBFC and nothing will really change. As for the cuts ordered in Simran, they were minor cuts that did not hamper the film’s narrative in any way. I carried them out because I did not see the point of fighting what was essentially the result of the dated guidelines and their ambiguous interpretation by members of the examining committee. What surprised me was that this news was all over the place the moment I left the CBFC screening of Simran. Obviously, somebody within the board was gleeful that they had got me by the b**ls and had already informed all and sundry about the cuts. I’m actually glad that whoever ‘spilled the beans’ had his/her moment in the sun.”
On the other hand, filmmaker Soumitra Ranade is very happy with the treatment given to his film Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyun Aata Hai by the Censor Board. “Over the last few years one has been hearing horror stories emanating from the Censor Board. One had also heard that with Prasoon Joshi taking over, things had improved. But despite all this, I was very scared. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by their response to the film. They just asked me for four sound cuts and re-dubs, basically to tone down the abuses. I was absolutely fine with their suggestions. They gave me an Adult certificate without any changes to the content of the film. In fact they made a wonderful comment – they said they want the audience to see the film the way it is now. One must acknowledge it when a much abused government department does a good/sensitive job. I would do that whole-heartedly.”