In what could be seen as a significant move regarding censor policies, the I & B ministry has sent a letter questioning how the controversial trailer of Dr Chandraprakesh Diwedi's Mohalla Assi which shows characters in Varanasi in a highly abusive mode, has been submitted for censor certification. If so, how could it have been passed.
Following this, the rules regarding abusive language in films are likely to be further strengthened. Sources at the censor board insist there will be no special treatment for films by directors like Vishal Bhardwaj and Anurag Kashyap whose characters are known to revel in unparliamentary language.
The chairperson of the Censor Board Of Film Certification, Pahlaj Nihalani is very clear on the issue of abusive language in cinema.
Says Nihalani, "The trailer that you're mentioning has not come to us from the time I took charge in January this year. If it does, we'd certainly not certify it. It is clearly abusive especially towards matters of religion. We are very clear on the issue of abusive language. No expletives, profanities, maa-bahen ki gaali or any kind of verbal abuse would be allowed. That is the guideline and policy, and we have to follow it."
Nihalani reveals there is much dissent within the censor board regarding abusive content in cinema. "I am told that some board members want us to be 'flexible' over the issue. What does that mean? That we allow foul language in one director's film just because he has the reputation of making realistic films, and we refuse to pass the same abuses in another director's film? Sorry, that's not flexibility, it is hypocrisy. The censor board will not indulge in double standards, at least not during my tenure."
Nihalani believes foul language can never be a creative compulsion. "I'll give you one example. The film Masaan has just been released to rave reviews. All the abuses in the film were asked to be cleaned out by us. Did the audience feel anything missing in the dialogues for even a second? Some directors feel they can make their point better if their characters are shown abusing. It's a myth. And we at the CBFC are not appointed to propagate myths. We are supposed to ensure that films have their say with full creative freedom but within the prescribed guidelines without offending anyone."
Apparently, the I & MInistry is pleased with the way the CBFC is being run.
Says Nihalani, "For the first time in the history of the CFBC, movies are certified within 24 hours after they are submitted for certification, We've made sure there are no pending films, trailers, first-looks or any material submitted for certification. There is no backlog at the CBFC."
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