Special Correspondent

PANAJI: The Indian Cinematograph Act, 1952, is being reviewed to put documentaries on a separate footing for certification.

Vinayak Azad, Regional Officer, Central Board of Film Certification, Western Zone, stated this at a seminar on ‘Censorship in India’ at the International film Festival of India here.

The issue of documentary certification was raised by Ramesh Tekwani, vice-president of the Indian Documentary Producers’ Association.

Some filmmakers complained that if the Board objected to any scene and if the filmmaker went to the review committee, he would have to pay a fee at each stage. They suggested that when a film was cleared, the various fees paid at different levels be refunded.

Earlier, countering the criticism that a mere apprehension of law and order problem should not compel the Board to recommend cuts in a film, Nandini Sardesai, member, said the CBFC was guided by the provisions of the Cinematograph Act and Article 19 of the Constitution relating to fundamental rights and reasonable restrictions imposed on citizens. As such, it had to be more sensitive even when there was a chance of a law and order problem.

But filmmaker Rakesh Sharma cited Supreme Court rulings to say the Board should base its decision on the clearest possible nexus, instead of apprehension of a law and order problem. He even suggested that its role be confined to certifying films, and a separate body, akin to the Press Council of India, be created to address grievances.

Mr. Azad accused the media of going overboard, encouraging trivial controversies often created ahead of the release of a big film.

Some members justified their being cautious while certifying films in view of the growing intolerance in society and people becoming insensitive to the concerns of others. Filmmakers raised the issues of transparency in the formation of the CBFC panel and tendency to succumb to political pressure.

On certification, CBFC chairperson Sharmila Tagore said on Tuesday that the draft of an amendment to guidelines was pending with the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, and it might be presented in Parliament in the next session.

She said that it was found that the present guidelines, based on the Indian Cinematographic Act, 1952, needed to be revised in keeping with the time.

Ms. Tagore said the amendments included a mandatory provision for filmmakers to carry the certification advisory on posters. Even in newspapers, the Board wanted to make it mandatory to divulge the certification. The people needed to know this “considering the explicit language or violence in films,” she said.

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