Filmmaker writes to Joshi, contests ‘A’ tag by CBFC

A still from No Fathers in Kashmir .Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

After facing delay at the Central Board of Film Certification and eventually getting an “A” certificate with cuts for his latest film No Fathers in Kashmir, filmmaker Ashvin Kumar has now written an open letter to the CBFC chairperson Prasoon Joshi, contesting the “A” certificate, highlighting several concerns.

The letter was sent to Mr. Joshi on Saturday; two previous official communications by the filmmaker to him are said to have gone unresponded.

Mr. Kumar claims that his film falls within the guidelines for a “U” certificate as per the law of the land and has urged Mr. Joshi to see the film himself so that he can be spared the time, expense and trauma of going through the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) appeal and legal proceedings.

According to Mr. Kumar, it has become a trend of sorts to dish out “A” certificates on frivolous grounds for films the State wants to restrict. “It has less to do with indicating unsuitability for children and more with helping CBFC avoid bad press of an outright ban,” he writes.

A family story

No Fathers in Kashmir is a coming-of-age story about two sixteen-year-olds experiencing first-love and heartbreak. “But in the world-view of CBFC, sixteen-year-old Indians are not allowed to watch it,” he writes. The film is a work of fiction on themes of forgiveness and hope and has no sex, violence, vulgarity, nudity nor drug abuse. “It talks about the dilemmas of family, psychological and social, and particularly of women — mothers, wives, daughters — upon whom the weight of conflict falls the hardest,” he writes.

He states that having spent time making films with teenagers across the country, he is persuaded that it is this generation of millennials, who could be the real harbingers of change, further underscoring the irony in CBFC denying them the right to information by granting “A” certificate to the film.

“The kids are exposed to all kinds of grisly content on air, but a tasteful and nuanced take like mine gets treated this way,” he said on a phone call to The Hindu.

In the letter, Mr. Kumar also points that in the case of Pankaj Butalia’s film on stone pelting in Kashmir — The Textures of Loss in which the facts are almost similar to that of No Fathers in Kashmir , the High Court of Delhi converted the “A” rating to “U”. He also points out that CBFC had previously awarded a U/A certificate to the film Haider , which was deeply critical of the state’s role in Kashmir.

Mr. Kumar writes that an “A” certificate is as good as banning the film. “For an independent film, without big studio backing, theatrical revenues barely cover marketing costs and producers expect to make fifty to sixty percent of the total revenues from broadcast rights and increase in value for internet and other platforms as a result of TV exposure,” he writes. However, under present laws, broadcasters cannot screen A certificate films on TV. They can only run U/A or U certificate films.

He wants the CBFC to spell out its goalposts clearly and have a mandatory legal expert on its committee to help reduce the number of appeals and avoid financial losses and trauma faced by filmmakers due to delays, inconclusive hearings and appeals.

The Hindu has reached out to Mr. Joshi and is awaiting his response.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2021 2:15:53 PM |

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