Cut it out!
SUDDENLY, smoke fumes have gagged the Central Board of Film Certification, commonly known as the Censor Board. Depending once again on pure whimsy. the scissors out to snip he movie hero from lighting up weed on the screen. Or revelling with a whisky-soda.
Granted that tobacco and alcohol are killer-dillers. But if cinema is to catch reality, can the screen become the equivalent a health spa? Imagine a scenario where the heroes are restricted :o swigging milk and the heroines to popping Vitamin-C pills. In recent weeks, Duplicate. Aunty No I and Keemat have been meted out rough treatment by the censorship hawks. Even though the films are of a variable quality, does it make sense to cut out Shah Rukh Khan from setting a flame to a cigarette, Govinda from sneaking a puff or Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan from indulging in the usual crash-blam action rigmarole? Meanwhile sundry censorship guidelmes continue to be flouted rake for instance, the stricture that “anti-social activities such as violence arc not glorified or justified. Yeah? Then what was Guddu Dhanoa’s Salaakhen, to cite just one random instance, 311 about? The hero, Sunny Deol, was shown not only going haywire in a law court but bashing a lawyer to death right before the eyes of a inert judge. Ouch. On the other hand, Duplicate was shorn of innocuous scenes like Shah Rukh igniting a ciggie or Sonali Bendre’s skirt flying (a a Marilyn Monroe’s in The Seven Year Itch). As for the footage snipped from Aunty No I and Keemat, too, similar yards of celluloid have been given the goahead in countless films in the past.. .and will continue to be passed in the future.
Uniformity, consistency and fair treatment-for -all are certainly not the virtues of the Censor Board which cannot escape the charges )f either playing favourites or going hammer and tongs.
Recent cuts ordered by the censors indicate that an amendment :o the guidelines (notified in an official gazette, dated September 15, ‘97) is now being put into practice. Says the amendment, "Scenes tending to encourage, justify or glamourise (the) consumption of tobacco or smoking (are) not to be shown.” This is in addition to the already ordained taboo on scenes which have the effect of justifying or glorifying drinking...” Ongoing debates in various for a on film censorship have hardly resulted in a progressive or realistic approach.
Matters keep puttering On: film-makers who get away Scotfree with myriad forms of violence and vulgarity heave an audible sigh of relief., while those who find their work put through the shredder, tear their hair haplessly. Some go to the tribunal, others growl and bear it. The point is that censorship, though warranted to prevent screen anarchy, surely needs to keep in touch with the times and trends of global cinema. A refresher course for the members in quality international films, is absolutely imperative. Indeed, it has been pointed out time and again that quite a few members are appointed because of “political patronage” or on the recommendation of those who happen to be close to the current central government in power. Also, a check on the mechanics and everyday functioning of the Censor Board is more than essential. Allegations have been periodically forwarded that a “lenient” panel of censors is called to view certain films., while a “strict” one is summoned to view the others. Moreover, unmitigated powers assigned to the censor officers certainly call for a review and revision. Clearly, the chairman of the board doesn’t hold an easyjob.
He has to be accountable and answerable to the public, the film industry as well the media for the anomalies which are constantly being brought to light. Surely, a chairman when quizzed about why a certain film was cleared and another one with a near-similar content was torn to ribbons, must be able to argue the case on behalf of the board. It’s no use saying, “I don’t see the films myself’ or “I haven’t seen a film for ages.” Which is like a chef arguing that he hasn’t tasted his own unappetising cuisine. As of now, Shakti Samanta alter occupying the chairman’s hot seat for over seven years, has asserted that he has put in his resignation papers. He is fed up. The truth be told, so are we. But then is there any guarantee that the quixotic ways of the censors will improve in the future? Or will the sledgehammer keep coming down on cigarettes and whisky even while men bash up lawyers in court, top cops truck with mafia dons and practically every mortal in sight wallows in rape, cold blooded murders and assorted acts of bestiality against
Think about it.