`The show must go on, censors can wait...'

The Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Ravi Shankar Prasad, with film actress Jaya Bachchan, the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) president, Surekha Kothari, and the FLO member, Manya Patil Seth, at a seminar on Women, Cinema and Society, organised by the FLO in New Delhi on Wednesday. — PTI  

NEW DELHI APRIL 9. It was a star cast any film-maker would dream about. But the catch was that they were here only to make a guest appearance.

Gathered to do some "soul-searching'' on "The impact of cinema and portrayal of women in films'' here today were some of the best-known names from Bollywood. And the occasion: a seminar on "Women, Cinema and Society'' organised by the FICCI Ladies' Organisation.

The guests from the silver screen included Shashi Kapoor, Jaya Bachchan, Shabana Azmi, Deepti Naval, Neena Gupta, Suhasini Maniratnam, Vyjayantimala, Tanuja Chandra and the veteran film- maker Mrinal Sen. And almost all of them agreed that "censorship should be a matter of individual choice and not imposed by any Government''.

``Films mirror society and the same goes for depiction of women in films. We are not here to do male-bashing as both men and women share equal responsibility for this state of affairs. Women are good or bad, so are men,'' said Jaya Bachchan.

The Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was also present, couldn't agree more. "Creativity, beauty and the depiction of women and everything else associated with films is strictly the job of its creator; the Government is not in the banning business. People have to help us decide what to show and what to censor,'' he said. Providing a "realistic'' view of what a woman has to go through to be successful both in front of the camera and behind it, National Award-winning actress Suhasini said: "Nothing succeeds like success. When I joined the industry, I knew my right from wrong. Every woman, no matter where she is, must work on that knowledge.''

Presenting the "other side'' of the story were Mrinal Sen and Mahesh Bhatt. "We are in the business of selling illusions, it is up to the people to decide what they want to see and how. No government or censor board can do that job.''

And while the debate remained "inconclusive'' at the end of the day, both the speakers and the audience hoped that Bollywood would evolve to create and provide more meaningful cinema.