You may have heard about the committee headed by filmmaker Shyam Benegal that has been appointed to help revamp the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC, commonly referred to as the Censor Board). Now, a trio of Redditors, inspired by the Save The Internet campaign, have taken it upon themselves to make sure Benegal's committee succeeds in its endeavour.
The link to a website for a campaign called #SaveOurCinema, which sends a pre-written email out to the committee as per a call-for-action posted by the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) in mid-January. The post asks for the "views of film viewers on the certification process being followed by #CBFC and suggestions if any within the ambit of the existing Act, Rules and guidelines which have withstood the scrutiny of various Hon’ble Courts, to enable them to finalize their recommendations."
On Saturday, upset by the number of cuts in the adult superhero comedy Deadpool, Bangalore-based Sharath C George started a Reddit thread about sending inputs to Benegal's revamp committee. "I had read about it in a news report," he said, in a phone conversation with HuffPost India.
Soon, the thread made it to Reddit India's front page and had gathered a large amount of support. Yasasvy Nanyam, a movie buff knowledgeable about censorship in India and currently a PhD student based in the United States, drafted the response. He then tagged another Redditor, Avinash Sajjanshetty, a Python developer from Bangalore, who coded the website.
"The whole thing was done overnight," said George. "We didn't even know each other's names till yesterday."
Screenshot of the Reddit thread that started it all
The contents of the email on the website — which asks for more transparency in appointment of CBFC officials as well as an appeal to end the deletion of curse words, violence, and nudity in adult films — can be edited by the user sending out the mail. "We are optimistic that this exercise will lead to a change in the way things are being done by the board," he said.
He says the trio was influenced by the way the Save The Internet campaign had succeeded in getting lakhs of Indians to send emails to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) in opposition of Facebook's Free Basics, on grounds that it violated net neutrality. Last week, Facebook was forced to shut down its Free Basics operations in India after TRAI's decision to bar differentially priced Internet access.
Over the past year, since the appointment of chairman Pahlaj Nihalani, the board has been at the centre of several controversies related to overzealous censorship of films. Profanity and sexual content has been censored from movies for sometimes arbitrary reasons. Many times, the decisions don't even make sense, such as the CBFC's unusual request to shorten the length of a kissing scene in the James Bond movie Spectre (2015).
To send out a mail in support of #SaveOurCinema, head here.
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