Film censorship

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had so far assumed the role of Cato the Censor in Roman history. It chopped scenes, deleted words, inserted warnings and sometimes banned an entire film. But now there is a silver lining. The Chief of the CBFC, Pahlaj Nihalani has recently relented to the extent of allowing film makers to be the guardians of the morality of viewers. But it is a limited gain. The permission granted to the film makers will be subject to a final supervision by the Board. Nevertheless, one should be grateful for small mercies.

The CBFC has so far been the final authority in deciding what can and cannot be shown. It has its guidelines. If a film smacks of an anti-national or anti-religious stance, it goes to the can. All this is done in accordance with an antiquated law dating back to the 1950s. The Cinematographic Act of 1952 curbs the freedom of expression which was previously granted to the press and to the cinema in order to preserve “the sovereignty and integrity” of the state. The priorities have changed over the years. The same ban does not apply to the internet which can show uncensored films. The ridiculous moralistic stance of the CBFC has sometimes serious consequences impairing artistic values. Even films internationally acknowledged meet the Censors’ scissors. A mature democracy should not allow such interference.  On the other hand, the liberty to be granted should not be allowed to degenerate into licence. Films which offend against the religious sensibilities of a community or sour India’s relations with other countries should be put under a strict scanner.


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