Draft Cinematographic Bill, posted on I&B website, invites comments

Empathising with film-makers confronted with demands for a ban on their films by “vested groups, fringe elements” as in the case of Vishwaroopam and Madras Cafe in the recent past, the Empowered Committee on film certification has mandated that no State government can order the suspension of a film.

The draft Cinematograph Bill, 2013 — posted on the Information & Broadcasting Ministry’s website for drawing comments on the changes suggested in the 1952-vintage legislation — states that only the Central government can suspend the screening of a film after it has been certified by the Censor Board.

The Central government can only invoke this clause only after a show-cause notice has been given in writing to the film-maker setting out the grounds for proposing such a move and giving him/her reasonable opportunity to respond.

Calls for a ban on a film “very often leads to a situation where a filmmaker is standing against a government despite having adhered to procedure established by law”, the Empowered Committee said. The Committee pointed out that Entry 60 of List I of the Seventh Schedule to the Constitution categorically places legislation relating to sanction of film for exhibition in the domain of the Central government. Further, the specific language of Entry 33 of List-II of the same Schedule provides that this entry is subject to the provisions of Entry 60.

The Ministry had sought clarity on this issue in its terms of reference to the Committee in view of recent instances of films like Aarakshan, Vishwaroopam and Madras Caf? running into trouble in some States.

Age restriction changed

The Committee has also sought to bring the classification of films up to speed by suggesting a shift to the internationally prevalent practise of age-related classifications and certifications. As against the current practise of ‘U’, ‘U/A’ and ‘A’ certification, the Committee has proposed to break-up ‘U/A’ by age to ‘12+’ and ‘15+’ while retaining ‘U’ and ‘A’. The ‘S’ classification for restricted circulation has been retained.

The Committee has also reviewed certain definitions contained in the Cinematograph Act, 1952, to incorporate the sea of changes in film-making.

The word ‘film’ under the proposed law will not be confined to the “moving picture content of the film” but will include songs and lyrics of the song. This has been done, in particular, to address the issue of ‘item songs’ as the “sexual innuendo and banal titillating references” have drawn considerable ire.

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