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    Default CBFC move to give item songs A certificate rattles Bollywood

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    TOI was the first to tell you about CBFC's intention to scrutinise item numbers to ensure that 'women are not objectified' on screen post the Nirbhaya gang-rape case.

    In a move confirming our report, the Board has decided to give an 'A' certification to 'item songs' (depending on content), thus disqualifying their promos from being aired on prime-time television. We, of course, stick to our view that moral populism isn't the answer. What we need is an efficient and effective administration.

    The Central Board of Film Certification's (CBFC) initial decision to give Priyanka Chopra's item number in Shootout At Wadala Babli Badmaash an 'A' certificate has taken the film industry by shock and surprise.
    An 'A' certification would disallow the producers, Balaji Motion Pictures and audio label, Sony Music, from promoting the track on television during prime time.

    Tanuj Garg, Balaji Motion Pictures, says, "After submitting Babli Badmaash for certification, we were informed that it would get an 'A' because it was an item track. We were shocked and informed the CBFC that the industry was not aware of such a rule. We were later told that there was no blanket directive; songs would be certified according to their content."

    Soon after, the Film and Television Producers Guild wrote to the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, stating that the industry deserved to be informed about the new regulation. The guild explained how most of these special songs are mainly used as a promotional song/video. If dance numbers are going to be held back after being labelled 'item songs', all pre-release marketing plans will go down the drain, they said.

    The film industry, understandably, is against any arbitrary change in the certification of item son-gs. A senior producer, on the condition of anonymity, says, "What is an item number? How does one define it? It is a phrase with no formal dictionary meaning. It is an industry-coined phrase. A rule cannot be made about something that is so inherently vague and subjective."

    Actress Bipasha Basu agrees. "Blaming cinema and item songs (for crimes against women) is unfair. These have been around forever. Helen Aunty did cabarets in the 60s. Everyone is pointing a finger at the industry because a scapegoat is needed."

    Says Tigmanshu Dhulia, who faced a problem with a song in Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster Returns, "The CBFC did not allow us to cut a promo of the song. Songs drive a film's marketing and if they are not going to be played on TV, what is the use? The bigger problem with the board is that they don't object when the so-called moral police protest against films, which have been cleared by them."

    He adds, "We could not sell the satellite rights of SBGR because it was given an 'A' certificate, so I had to tone down a lot of scenes to avoid problems."

    The board, however, denies any such move. On Saturday evening, CBFC Chairperson Leela Samson said, "I would like to unambiguously clarify that no such decision has been taken, either by the board or by the ministry, nor is such a move being contemplated. The guidelines governing certification of films, trailers, or any part thereof simply state that they will be certified depending on the age-group of audiences that they are suitable for. Hence, dance numbers will continue to be examined on a case-to-case basis, too."

    In the meanwhile, the industry is waiting with bated breath to see if Babli Badmaash is cleared by the board's revising committee today.

 

 

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