I&B minister: We intend to take forward suggestions by filmmakers

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said the ministry intends to take forward suggestions by filmmakers after he met a host of Bollywood producers and film personalities on Monday

Filmmakers from Bollywood were all smiles, after a meeting with the minister of state for information and broadcasting ended on a positive note. The meeting was to discuss certification of films and other issues affecting the industry.

Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, MoS for information and broadcasting, with Gulzar, Shabana Azmi, Vidya Balan. Rathore met producers and filmmakers at a suburban hotel yesterday. Pic/Yogen Shah
Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, MoS for information and broadcasting, with Gulzar, Shabana Azmi, Vidya Balan. Rathore met producers and filmmakers at a suburban hotel in Mumbai on Monday. Pic/Yogen Shah

"The discussion was about issues and ideas, and not about any individual," said Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, when asked if there was a proposal to replace Pahlaj Nihalani, the controversial chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), popularly called Censor Board.

The minister addressed the media after a two-hour meeting with the film fraternity. Rathore said, "The film industry has come up with wonderful suggestions and we intend to take it forward. The meeting was not about any individual."

He, however, refused to divulge details. Mukesh Bhatt, president of the Film and Television Producers Guild, said, "It was a fruitful discussion and it was nice of the minister to come down and give us the assurance.

We are creative people; we were feeling vulnerable, scared, restless and worried. He gave us the reassurance that we're on the same page. Both our aims are to take Indian cinema to a global level and that can only be done collectively and with the help of the government."

The issues
Actresses like Vidya Balan, Deepika Padukone and Anushka Sharma, whose films have faced problems with the CBFC, were present at the meeting. According to a source, Sharma spoke of her recent experience with 'NH10', wherein she mentioned the issues with CBFC and the process which forced her to push the release of her film by a week.

The minister was also told about cuss words that were deleted despite the ban on them put on hold. In reply, Rathore said, "It has to be a collective effort and the film industry should also understand that they need to bring their film for certification in time, so that the process of certification is made to favour the film. No individual can affect the certification of the film.

There is a process which involves the examining committee, revising committee and finally the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal and no one person can hijack a film." There were no direct suggestions to replace Nihalani, a filmmaker who was present at the meeting said.

"There was one voice, though, that the film industry be kept in the loop before the ministry selects the chairperson," he added. Kulmeet Makkar, CEO of the Guild, told mid-day, "The minister told us that any film with A certificate should be cleared without a single cut unless there is something in the film that seems forced.

There was a suggestion of moving towards self-regulation, which was applauded by all." Other suggestions included the nature of CBFC, the jarring 'No Smoking' disclaimer during films and litigation issues (see box). Aamir Khan, Karan Johar, Ritesh Sidhwani, Madhu Mantena, Anurag Kashyap, Raju Hirani and many more producers were present at the meeting.

Khan, who has been in favour of the rating system, told the media that even the minister felt the same and said that Rathore even suggested that the CBFC should be called as a rating system because "the word C in CBFC often leads people to think of Censoring than Certifying." The minister will meet members of CBFC today to listen to their concerns.

Bollywood suggests

>> No cuts to films that have been certified 'A'

>> CBFC should behave like a certification body, not a censoring body

>> Don't force us to put 'No smoking' disclaimers in the film. It was suggested that Karan Johar would direct 8-10 films featuring big actors talking about the ill-effects of smoking. These would be given to the ministry, which can then play it as it wishes

>> If a case is filed against a film, it should be registered where the film has been registered, and not in a remote place, as is generally the case. This comes in the wake of Raju Hirani and Aamir Khan getting another legal notice for PK

>> Shift the Animal Welfare Board to regional offices because producers have to otherwise travel to Chennai to get their certification

>> Move towards self-regulation like TV, which is free to air while cinema is ticketed and controlled

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