Shyam Benegal moots category for films with excessive adult content

Filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who heads the government-appointed panel to revamp CBFC has suggested a new category - 'Adult with Caution' or 'A/C for films with excessive adult content in his recommendations.

Benegal, who has directed award-winning movies like 'Bhumika', 'Mandi' and 'Nishant', however, said the committee is yet to submit a final report.

Shyam Benegal
Shyam Benegal

"We have submitted an interim report to the government, the details of which cannot be revealed. Yes, we have mooted a new category 'Adult with Caution' or 'A/C' for certification of films with excessive adult content," Benegal told PTI.

"We have suggested two other categories: Under U/A, U/A 12+ and U/A 15+. I can't reveal too much. There is another report that we will submit in three-four days. The government will take the final call. It is not fair to say anything on the suggestions as it is premature," he said. Benegal said the report would be ready "well before June 20", the last date of submission.

In January this year, the government constituted a committee headed by Benegal to look into the revamping of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) which has been mired in controversies.

Benegal recently watched "Udta Punjab", whose makers are locked in a bitter battle with censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani for demanding multiple cuts in the movie besides removal of Punjab from its title. The veteran filmmaker said he thought director Abhishek Chuabey had done a great job with the movie though he declined to comment on the censorship row.

The CBFC is a statutory body under Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, regulating the public exhibition of films. The certificates for a film in India go as 'U'-Universal, 'UA'-Universal under Adult Supervision and 'A'-Adult.

The CBFC has been in news for its controversial decisions be it proposing a list of 28 banned cuss words, demanding cuts in films like "Udta Punjab", "Jai Gangajal", "NH 10", "Dum Laga Ke Haisha", "Angry Indian Godesses" and even shortening the kissing scenes in James Bond movie "Spectre". After the controversy over a number of cuts in "Udta Punjab", Bollywood stalwarts have raised concerns over censorship and dangers to freedom of expression and hit out at Nihalani, with some prominent film personalities even demanding his ouster.

The film, which stars Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor-Khan and Diljit Dosanjh, deals with the issue of how the youth in Punjab are succumbing to drug addiction.

Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court today suggested the CBFC not to be overly-critical of a movie, and at the same time also asked the makers of "Udta Punjab" to tone down the expletives and vulgar scenes in the film. It will pass orders in the case on June 13.

Phantom Films, producer of "Udta Punjab", which is aggrieved by an order of the revising committee of the CBFC that suggested changes in the film before its release on June 17, had moved the HC over the cuts.

The board's suggestions include removal of abusive words from dialogue, certain words from the songs, references to Punjab and places in the state and deletion of close-up shots of actors injecting the drugs. They also wants the producers to make changes in the disclaimer in the movie.

CBFC's suggestions also sparked off a political sparring earlier this week, prompting the co-producer Anurag Kashyap to ask the political parties to stay away from their fight.

The controversy acquired political overtones because Assembly polls are being held in Punjab next year.

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