cinema Sharmila Tagore on the challenges she faced as the CBFC chief
T he agenda was to talk about Sharmila Tagore's latest film Life Goes On, but the discussion ventured into the dilemmas she faced during her tenure and how Central Board of Film Certification sometimes gets reduced to Censor Board. If one is not wrong the job is to grade films, not cut them. Many times the mood in the industry and the media doesn't echo with the views of the Board. “Right now we are in a mood to get offended. A section of the media highlights the differences rather than the commonality. I believe we have more in common and that's why we are together. That's why our films run. We are not in a business of diminishing freedom but we are also answerable to the society and we believe are quite tuned to society. There will always be that five per cent which wants to do away with the censorship altogether. There is another five per cent which is proactive and wants to cut out everything but there is a majority in the middle, which wants some kind of censorship and I think we are doing a responsible job for them.” She has been dubbed the most liberal chief in the last few years. “The society has become liberal. People are exposed to watching different kinds of films from different parts of the world because of satellite channels. You could see girls in jeans riding motorcycles. India actually defies description. It is liberal as well as conservative at the same time. Liberalisation is a process. It takes years. Films like Parzania and now Jessica have got released with an A certificate where we haven't cut anything.”
“At the time of Closure, the director didn't want to cut a single shot. There was nothing visual but the talk was about the concept of sex, the touch of sex, the smell of sex and I was horrified God forbid if it gets dubbed in Hindi what it will sound like. We have to take into account that every English film that gets released can be dubbed. Then in ‘Black Swan', we had to cut out a scene. A lot of friends got upset but we have to keep the other perspective in mind as well.” Tagore says street censorship is a bigger issue. “‘The Da Vinci Code was banned in certain states and when the producers went to the court, the court okayed its release but then it became a law and order problem and it was withdrawn for no rhyme or reason. So there is a lot of street censorship that is going on. We are under the umbrella of a government body and if you are not happy with our decision you can always take us to court and fight for your right whereas in street censorship somebody throws a stone at you or sets a theatre on fire. What can you do with it? I think it is far more dangerous than what we are doing.”
UA certificate usually comes under fire. Recently Madhur Bhandarkar complained to the media about it.
“Earlier, the women in films were seen as somebody who could cry and portray victimhood because the target audience was male and it massaged the male ego and even when we got female-oriented films with Meena Kumari, Nutan or I in the lead, victimhood was still central to the storyNow the target audience is youth, both men and women. . It is still manipulative. It is about manipulating the male ego, manipulating the youth ego that they are taking all the decisions, they are financially independent, they are earning and they are rich at the age of 20. Does that happen in real life? It doesn't.”
“The girls are more confused but everybody's dream is still to get married. Out of all this modernity that you are wearing the right clothes, little suggestion that you are up there but the ultimate dream is still to get married. In Break Ke Baad she gives up all to get married. In 3 Idiots the girl carries out a complicated child birth but she doesn't even know that the guy she is about to get married is an idiot. Aamir and his friends have to tell her this. And the ultimate aim was again marriage. In real life, however, women are opting for late marriages.”