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Film certification goes cyber

S. Raju, Regional Officer, (CBFC, Chennai), the brain behind the website.

THE CENTRAL Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has now got a website — Its chairman, Aravind Trivedi, along with A.V.M. Saravanan, Kamal Haasan and Suhashini Maniratnam officially inaugurated the site in Chennai. The CBFC has nine centres spread all over the country with its head office in Mumbai. But the hub of the website is going to be in Chennai.

There are Regional Officers all over country but it is only in Chennai that there is an IAS officer taking care of the centre. He is S. Raju, Regional Officer, (CBFC, Chennai), brain behind the website. Though Raju is from Tamil Nadu, he has worked in various capacities all over the country. "I was in Bihar and U.P. also," he added. Excerpts from an interview with S. R. Ashok Kumar:

What is the need for a website for the CBFC?

There seems to be a lot of misinformation about the working of CBFC popularly known as the Censor Board. During many controversies in the past, the statements given by various film personalities frequently seem to imply that the Censor Board does not have clear-cut guidelines. This website is an attempt to explain various provisions of censorship and principles of certification.

The website also gives authentic data on various certified films, apart from giving yearly statistics for the past five years.

Who is responsible for enforcement of Cinematograph Act?

While the Central Board of Film Certification is responsible for certifying the films, the enforcement, including ensuring that whatever has been deleted by the Censor Board is not inserted at the time of exhibition, is the responsibility of the State Government.

What are the violations generally found during exhibition?

The category of Certificate given to a particular film (`UA' or `A') is not mentioned on the face of advertisements; interpolations of uncensored or deleted portions; admitting children below 18 years to an adult movie; non-display of cut list at a conspicuous place in the cinema hall, to name a few. Producers often say that CBFC is conservative. Your opinion?

To understand the current trend among the youth, the members of the CBFC are going to various colleges in the city. We distribute a questionnaire to the students and after getting obtain their views. We also have a discussion with them.

Their responses are interesting. Although the producers accuse us of being conservative, the college youth seem to think that in some instances, the behaviour of the college boys and girls are exaggerated and portrayed in a negative fashion in films.

But don't you face criticism from the parents about the exhibition of films?

One should realise that producers have the right to make adults only films. What matters is how a film is exhibited and how it is advertised.

Is there a legal way of doing this?

There are provisions in the Cable TV Act which prescribes certain timings for the exhibition of adult material. The Cable TV Act also prescribes a certain model code for programmes and advertisements.

What has the CBFC done to ensure that the category of certificates is displayed along with advertisements?

The Enforcement of Cinematograph Act is the responsibility of the State Government. However, the Board took the initiative in some matters. We have been meeting various media heads in TVs and newspapers and requested them to mention the category of the Certificate on the face of advertisements.

What are the objectives of your website?

(a) To engage the citizen into direct dialogue with the CBFC, (b) To provide information and get continuous feed back from public and (c) To make the process of censorship of films transparent.

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