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Shyam Benegal: Film certification guidelines will be amended soon

The veteran filmmaker had headed a committee that was set up by the central government last year to suggest changes in the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

Keyur Seta

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has been in the news for its strict and often whimsical dictates ever since its committee was revamped in January 2015 under the leadership of chairman Pahlaj Nihalani.

The CBFC chief is trending more than many film stars on social media these days for his decision to disallow the use of the word ‘intercourse’ in dialogue in Imtiaz Ali’s forthcoming film Jab Harry Met Sejal, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma.

Owing to persistent complaints from the film fraternity about too much censorship, the Union information and broadcasting ministry had set up a committee headed by respected filmmaker Shyam Benegal on 1 January 2016 to recommend changes to the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

The Benegal committee suggested that the CBFC should only be a certification body that can refuse certification only on certain clearly specified grounds. The report was submitted to the government last year, but nothing has been heard of it since.

In a conversation with Cinestaan.com, Benegal spoke about the current status of the report. "That report was given to the government in two parts," he said. "The first part was given in April last year and the second in October. A few weeks ago, Mr M Venkaiah Naidu, Union information and broadcasting minister, was here [in Mumbai] consulting members of the film industry on the report. The report deals, as you know, with the changing of guidelines and amendment of the Cinematograph Act of 1952.”

Benegal said he is not sure how many of his committee's recommendations will be accepted by the government, but he hoped that amendment of the Cinematograph Act would take place soon. "Amendment of this act requires the sanction of Parliament," he said. "The report suggested amendment in two or three points. That report is with the government. How much of it they will accept, I wouldn’t know. But it will happen soon."

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