After director Onir complained that his National Award-winning film I AM was not eligible for telecast on Doordarshan since the Censor Board refused to give it “U” certification, the national broadcaster has promised to review its policy of not showing “UA” films.
“I AM, which deals with issues of child sexual abuse, sperm donation, gay rights and Kashmiri Pandits, is also being considered for a one-off relaxation of current policy,” says DD Director-General Tripurari Sharan.
“Some DD officials…told him that he cannot submit his film for telecast on DD since it has an ‘UA’ certificate. As of now, this is what the policy position is,” Mr. Sharan told The Hindu. “We are going to have a fresh look at this policy indeed, because it does prima facie sound a little discrepant that private channels should be able to broadcast with this certificate while DD should continue with this restriction.”
Private channels are allowed to broadcast films with “UA” certification in a late-night time slot. After the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) — often called the Censor Board — refused his appeal for “U” certification despite edits to tone down the film’s content last week, Mr. Onir lashed out at the “old rusted policies” preventing his film from being telecast on DD.
“We had edited about 7 mins of the film, all abuses, kisses or anything that might seem unfit,” he posted on the film’s Facebook page. “And then I was told that the subject of the film cannot be U. Which means DD will not be able to screen my film.”
CBFC Chief Executive Pankaja Thakur put the blame on DD’s policies. “Producers and directors should not pressure the CBFC into giving their films U certificate just because some agency [read: DD] accepts only U rated films,” she told The Hindu. “We certify content. We can’t be held responsible for poor exhibition opportunities or lesser commercial gains of a film.”
Mr. Onir also had some hard questions for the national broadcaster. “I do not understand if DD can screen a Satyamev Jayate [which is a very important and brave gesture] at 11 a.m. on Sunday and has dealt with child sexual abuse and sperm donation, why should our film I AM be deprived of the same,” he wrote. “Why can’t we show our films on DD with the same UA cut that we have for satellite? Why can’t there be a slot for UA films post 9 pm? Today by sticking to this ridiculous mandate we deny our Doordarshan viewers some of the finest works in the country.”
He said he had written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni as well as Doordarshan Director-General, and it looks like his appeal may have worked.
“I have talked to Mr. Onir myself and asked him to first submit his film for telecast where after I will take a call, for the moment, of a one-off relaxation for a National Award winning film,” said Mr. Sharan. “However, he has to first fulfil the requirement of offering the film for telecast.”