Urging the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to drop the term ‘censorship’, Vani Tripathi Tikoo, a member, has said that the board should stick to certification of films rather than meddling with the creative freedom of the filmmakers.
Speaking to IANS on Saturday on the sidelines of the Taj Literature festival, Tripathi said the whole process of film certification needs revamping. The third edition of the festival was inaugurated on Friday.
“The term ‘censor’ is coined by the British and it’s high time we did away with it. CBFC is a film certification body and its only duty is to ensure that the movies which go out for public viewing should be deemed suitable for the age of the audience,” said the actor-turned-politician.
Tripathi also felt that the CBFC should stop taking the high moral ground and refrain from interfering with creative works. “We, the members of the board, think that we are the guardians of morality in the country. We take ourselves too seriously … we have no business to take creative decision on any creative work,” added the BJP leader.
Maintaining that certification of cinema is a sociological issue, she said that banning an artwork is unacceptable.
“We are not here to delete or add. The context of the narrative of the movie is of prime importance when you are certifying,” she said.
Citing the example of the movie “Bandit Queen”, made in 1994 by Shekhar Kapur and which was banned on grounds of obscenity, she said the board shouldn’t take positions on any films.
“‘Bandit Queen’ was banned for a scene for frontal nudity which was intrinsic for the narrative of the movie. Finally, when it got a nod from the Supreme Court after a year, pirated copies were already out,” she said.
She also maintained that the freedom to watch a movie should be left to the adult audience. “In the US, X-rated films are showed in theatres after midnight. If we have the right to choose a government at 18 years, then we should be given the freedom to watch movies of our choice too,” she said.
CBFC came under criticism last year for banning a set of cuss words in movies. It was also rocked with allegations of political appointments including chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, who is allegedly a Modi acolyte.
However, Tripathi refuted allegations of political interference in the affairs of the CBFC. “There is no political pressure of any sort. The chairman has never interfered in the matters of the board,” she maintained.
Tripathi also said that she is looking forward to the recommendations of the Shyam Benegal Committee, appointed to recommend steps to re-vamp the CBFC.
The committee comprises filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, advertising expert Piyush Pandey and critic Bhawana Somaya, among others.