Certification, Not Censorship, Says Arun Jaitley Amid Talks Of 'Adult With Caution' Category

10/06/2016 9:16 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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India's Finance Minister Arun Jaitley speaks with the media in New Delhi November 23, 2015. India will sell shares in some state-run companies when market conditions improve, Jaitley said on Monday, as the government struggles to meet its asset sales target that is crucial to help plug its deficit. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

As the debate rages on about the suggested cuts in 'Udta Punjab', a film that purportedly shows the latent opioid dependence problem among the state's youths, the Shyam Benegal Committee on Cinematograph Act/Rules is said to have recommended an 'Adult with Caution' category for certification of films with excessive adult content, according to an Indian Express report.

The move comes even as Information and Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley made all the right noises at the Indian of the Year Award hosted by CNN TV18 Group, calling for "radical changes" in certification and not censorship as the way forward. Jaitley's voice is a welcome change in the right wing, Bharatiya Janata Party-led government that has come under attack in recent times from civil society for trying to interfere in personal liberty.

CERTIFICATION, NOT CENSORSHIP

Jaitley said film certification norms have to be liberal and some very radical changes will be announced over the next few days.

The Central Board of Film Certification had initially asked for 89 cuts in 'Udta Punjab', which was later brought down to 13. The filmmaker and the producers are battling the CBFC in court to release the film on time. On the specific issue of Udta Punjab, Jaitley remained non-committal -- "I won't say its overboard. I don't know this case because I have not seen this film in question" -- but said the existing system of film certification has to be changed.

There is a well documented report by Shyam Benegal, the first part which has come to me which is under consideration. Over the next few days we are going to announce some very radical changes in that.

"There is a well documented report by Shyam Benegal, the first part which has come to me which is under consideration. Over the next few days we are going to announce some very radical changes in that," he said.

"You will probably have a system where you will have to have a certificate. The correct word is certification and not censorship. Certification norms will have to be liberal," he said.

WHAT WOULD AN A/C CATEGORY MEAN

The Benegal committee meanwhile suggested to Jaitley in April that films with 'A/C' category will have restricted viewing and cannot be screened at cinema halls and multiplexes located near residential areas, the Express report stated.

"We do not want to deny the filmmakers the right to screen their movies. When you do that, the movies go underground,” Benegal told Express.

An A/C movie can be shown in red light districts or other non-residential areas.

"An A/C movie can be shown in red light districts or other non-residential areas," the veteran filmmaker said.

The 'Adult' category he said will have two sections -- the usual A and the A/C. He has also suggested U/A 12+ and U/A 15+ as part of the U category.

shyam benegal

The Bombay High Court meanwhile asked the Censor Board to explain why it is insisting on deletion of the Punjab signboard in the film even as the film body insisted that the 13 changes suggested by its Revising Committee were justified and proper.

A bench headed by Justice S C Dharmadhikari was hearing a petition filed by Phantom Films, producer of 'Udta Punjab', which is aggrieved by an order of the Revising Committee of the Board that suggested changes in the film before its release on June 17.

Justice Dharmadhikari compared drug-themed 'Udta Punjab' with another film released earlier titled 'Go, Goa, Gone' saying in that movie the state of Goa is shown as a place where people go to socialise in parties and also take banned drugs.

IF GOA CAN BE SHOWN AS PLACE OF DRUG ABUSE, WHY NOT PUNJAB

"If Goa can be shown as a place of drug abuse in that film, what is wrong if Punjab is shown in Udta Punjab?" asked the judge.

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) lawyer argued that the order of the Revising Committee suggesting 13 changes in the film was not arbitrary and the committee had applied its mind while making these suggestions.

If Goa can be shown as a place of drug abuse in that film, what is wrong if Punjab is shown in Udta Punjab?

"We are objecting to the reference of Punjab and its people and the language used in the film", the lawyer argued.

Hearing the arguments, the court said that it was not satisfied with the first two suggestions made by the Censor Board in regard to the first two suggestions of the Committee about removing references to places in that state such as Chandigarh, Amritsar, Tarantaran, Jashanpura, Moga and Ludhiana.

(With inputs from PTI)

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