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    Default Films will no longer be certified as U or A, industry sees red

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    Industry sees red in the I&B Ministry's move to issue PG-12, PG-15 and adult ratings to movies, instead of plain U or A

    TOI had reported that the I&B Ministry had called for a meeting with film producers and the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) between April 3 and April 5 to set the pace for necessary amendments to the Cinematograph Act 1952.

    We can now tell you that the meeting which took place as scheduled had the Ministry put forth the proposal of categorising Indian films in a manner different to what has been hitherto followed. Which means if the Ministry has its way, films will no longer be certified as U, U/A, A. Instead, they will fall under any one of the following categories: Above 12 years of age (Under Parental Guidance), Above 15 years of age (Under Parental Guidance) or Above 18 years of age.

    Among those present were Riteish Sidhwani, Ramesh Sippy, President of the Producers' Guild Mukesh Bhatt, President of the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers (AMTPP) Sajid Nadiadwala, Indian Motion Picture Producers' Association Chief TP Agarwal, CBFC Chief Leela Samson, CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur, and senior members of the special panel instituted under the chairmanship of judicial expert Mukul Mudgal to review the functioning of the Board.

    Filmmakers are not too happy with the proposal as they feel it will deflate their audience. CEO of the Film & Television Producers Guild of India, Kulmeet Makkar, said: "Yes, there is a proposal by the I&B Ministry but it would be very subjective in a country like ours, where children face different levels of exposure in different cities. One needs to understand India's diversity to understand the perspective of filmmakers. We hope the new certification is not enforced," he said.

    Mahesh Bhatt echoed similar sentiments. "If the Cinematograph Act has to be amended, let the first step not be taken in such a tearing hurry. The proposal will have to be passed by the Parliament. I recommend treading with caution and responsibility. Moreover, there should be consensus of all parties involved," he said.

    Tips Head Honcho Ramesh Taurani feels it will be an impractical solution in India. "In foreign countries, parents are very particular about the films their children watch. They even accompany their children if the specification spells it out. I don't see that happening here. I've often seen many 15-year-olds coming to theatres with their friends to watch objectionable films," he said.

    When contacted, writer-director Renzil D'Silva said: "We are fine. Let us be. If the I&B proposal is put into practice, you are only going to open doors to more deceit and corruption. In this country, where fake certificates are so common, I don't think it makes sense... Instead, the need of the hour is uniform censorship, which, at the moment, is rather arbitrary."

    A senior producer on condition of anonymity said: "Look at it from our point of view. The times have changed. We have to let certain things go. But if you're still going to compartmentalise viewers into such specific categories, you will only be diminishing our audience. Also, if you look around, you will see Indian cinema, especially Bollywood, bleeding at the box office, with most movies having missed the mark."

    Not just filmmakers, even exhibitors are against the Ministry's proposal as they feel it amounts to excessive scrutiny right at the entry level. An official from Cinemax said on condition of anonymity that theatres would not welcome the new certification but would be left with no other option but to comply if it was enforced.

    While CBFC representatives Thakur and Samson remained unavailable for comment, a source close to the Mudgal helmed panel said: "The big screen has undergone a sea change in terms of content, dialogue and story-telling. The directors have become more experimental and are pushing the envelope in terms of objectionable content. It isn't overnight that the I&B Ministry has come up with this proposal. We've had our share of discussions with the industry since the past two years."

 

 

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