Censorship would prevail as long as commercial films are produced, said director Shyam Benegal, who had also been the chairman of the committee set up to lay norms for film certification. He was delivering the keynote address at the P K Nair Symposium on Censorship held at IFFK on Sunday.
Censorship began as a political move in the colonial era. But the present scenario also indicates that censorship is here to stay, he said. Shyam Benegal also presented the key points of recommendations made by his committee. He talked about the recommendation of restricting the scope of film certification body just to categorize the suitability of films to various audience based on their age and maturity. “It is the creator, no one else, can tamper the film”, he said.
He pointed out that ,according to the recommendation , the certification can be refused by CBFC only in case a film contain anything that disregards the provisions of Cinematograph Act of 1952 or if it crosses the ceiling laid in the highest category of certification. He also talked about the new categories recommended by committee subdividing UA category into UA12+ and UA15+, and A category to A and AC(Adult with Caution).
Moderated by Dr C. S Venkiteshweran, the symposium had Amol Palekar,Rakesh Sharma,Deepa Dhanraj, B UnniKrishnan ,V C Harris and Jayan Cheriyan as the panelists.
Most of the panelists were of the opinion that the pre-censorship hinders freedom of expression. “Pre -censorship is not carried out for any form of expression except films in this country,”Amol Palekkar said. He said that the system is giving an unequal treatment when it censors a film with political content and evades a political speech which incites violence.
Rakesh Sharma, director of ‘Final Solution’ -a documentary on Gujarat riots of 2002, was of the view that the need of the day is to challenge the extra jurisdiction powers of the Cinematograph Act itself.
Film Critic V C Harris was satirical when he said that pre-censorship is required since Governments think cinema is the only medium which can influence people. Filmmaker B UnniKrishnan said that government is not ready to discuss the issue of censorship with film employees’ trade unions. Filmmaker Jayan Cheriyan, Ka Bodyscapes ‘director who filed litigation against CBFC, thanked IFFK for screening his controversial movie. He said that the misinterpretation of the Cinematograph Act is used by CBFC to demoralize independent filmmakers who refuse to fall in line with the ruling regime.