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Vishal Bhardwaj's Rangoon skips anti-smoking warning, runs into CBFC again 


CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani has said that the film has been playing at theatres without the mandatory anti-smoking short films preceding it. 

Shriram Iyengar

Vishal Bhardwaj can't get out of the war zone with Rangoon. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is mulling on pulling up the director for screening his films in Indian and overseas theatre without the anti-smoking short films preceding this. The board is planning to take legal recourse against the makers of the film. 

CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani was quoted by reports saying, "It has been brought to our notice that Rangoon has been playing in theatres across the country and outside India without the censor certificate and without the anti-smoking short films, which are compulsory for all films that show actors smoking and/or drinking. Rangoon had many scenes showing the main leads indulging in serious substance abuse. We asked the makers to put a disclaimer ahead of the opening credits. That disclaimer has gone missing. Now, we have been informed that the anti-smoking films do not play at the beginning and after the intermission. And also that the censor certificate is not flashed at the start, as per law. These are serious offences." 

Nihalani added that distributors and operators of the film will also face the flak. He said, "We are taking legal action against the digital operators, to begin with. We would not like to point fingers at anyone else for the lapse at this time. It is the digital operators’ responsibility to play exactly the length that is shown to us and certified by the CBFC. Not a second more or less of footage must be shown in theatres than what we have certified. The exact length of the film that is shown to us and certified by us is mentioned in the censor certificate. If the anti-smoking films have been removed from the beginning and after intermission and if the censor certificate is not being shown in Rangoon, then, the digital operators are screening less footage than what has been approved by the CBFC. It is a serious offence. We are investigating to see how deep the offence goes." 

Bhardwaj was among the many opposers of the mandatory anti-smoking disclaimers in 2012, during the release of Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (2012). The director had actually replaced the short films with a special humorous song he had composed himself. 

Nihalani though is in no mood for conciliatory measures. He said, "Maybe some self-appointed intellectuals of our film industry feel it is okay to break the law as long as they can ridicule the jurisdiction of the CBFC." 

After facing some flak and ridicule over the last couple of years, the CBFC is starting to hit back. It looks like filmmakers need to be on their guard.