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Cinematograph Act: Over 3,100 industry bigwigs seek end to film censorship

Proposed changes to the act would restore the government's power to revoke certification of films cleared for public exhibition by the CBFC.

Our Correspondent

A slew of responses have been pouring in to the amendments to the Cinematograph Act recently proposed by the Union information and broadcasting ministry.

Under the amendments, the Union government would have the power to revoke certification of films which have been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). This proposal has come two months after the government dissolved the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) in April.

A group of filmmakers, technicians, academics, researchers, lawyers and members of civil society has come together to submit a response to the ministry highlighting their concerns about the amendments. The ministry had sought opinions from the public about the amendments. The deadline for sending in comments is 2 July 2021.

A subgroup of filmmakers and lawyers put together a list of suggestions on the amendments. These suggestions have been endorsed by industry veterans with as many as 3,100 appending their signatures to the list. One of the more important suggestions is that the CBFC should only be a body that grants certification and not one authorized to dictate excision, modification or amendment to films under review.

While the document welcomes the move to curb film piracy, it suggests that no new proviso be added granting revisionary powers to the government and urges that creative and effective means to tackle piracy in a systematic manner be opted for.

Among those who have signed the memorandum are Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Mira Nair, Vishal Bhardwaj, Anil Mehta, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Anjum Rajabali, Shama Zaidi, Jahnu Barua, Sudhir Mishra, Navroze Contractor, Amar Kanwar and Sanjay Kak.

Endorsements have poured in from the Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Assamese and Bengali film industries as well. Some of the prominent signatories from these industries are Rajeev Ravi, Venu, Lijo Jose Pellissery, Pa Ranjith, Vetrimaaran, Balaji Tharaneetharan, Thiagarajan Kumararaja, Fowzia Fathima, Jayathirtha BV, Supriyo Sen, Suman Mukhopadhyay and Bhaskar Hazarika.

Film groups such as the Ektara Collective and Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) have also signed.

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Censorship Indian cinema