Category: Education

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Paper presentation at My First Refresher course (13-02-2015 to 5-03-2015) at ASC Mumbai


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Films and their impacts on the society:

Films and their impacts on the society 3/6/2015


Introduction: Indian Film industry Pressure on Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Ban on the Films Alleged Political Interference – (CBFC) Ms. Leela Samson – resigned – due to no autonomy and due to exploitation Major Cause - Release of 2 Films – PK and MSG: Messenger of God PK: CBFC allowed PK to be released without any major cuts Ms. Samson was pressurised by some right wing Hindu religious organisation to ban PK MSG: Messenger of God – First refused by CBFC but on appeal allowed by the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). As per Ms. Samson the Appellate decision was too quick. She then resigned – after her other officials of CBFC too resigned

Two controversial Films:

Two controversial Films 3/6/2015 PK MSG-Messenger of God


Question? Whether the CBFC should be allowed to function as it is with autonomous powers and without political interference? Or Its powers are to be restricted to mere a body for rating the films produced in India as well as Foreign films released in India as per their contents and allow the film go uncut and hence protect the rights of the producers, directors and writers to freedom of speech and expression?

News about resignation of Ms. Samson:

News about resignation of Ms. Samson 3/6/2015

Aims and Objectives of the Paper:

Aims and Objectives of the Paper To study the role of CBFC and FCAT in protecting the Freedom of Speech and Expression. To ensure that while exercising this right to Freedom, no sentiments of any religions of any region are affected. To suggest some remedial measure to rectify the situation

Protest Against Films:

Protest Against Films 3/6/2015

Freedom of Speech and Expression in India:

Freedom of Speech and Expression in India Constitutional Provisions: Article 19(1)(a) Reasonable Restrictions: Article 19(2): Interest on Sovereignty and Integrity of India; Security of the State; Friendly relations with foreign States Public Order Decency or morality Or Contempt of Court, Defamation or incitement of an offence.

Film Censorship in USA:

Film Censorship in USA 1930-1968 – Industrial Moral guidelines (Popularly known as Hays Code named after Will H. Hays, then President of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (MPPDA). Applied to U.S. movies till 1950 – after that lost its hold Finally replaced by Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) film rating system 3/6/2015

American Ratings:

American Ratings “G” – for general audience “M” – (later became “GP” and now called as “PG” – Parental Guidance, also changed to “PG – 13” in 1984 for mature content. “R” – for restricted (under 17 not allowed without an adult) “X” for sexually explicit content. USA films censorship is concerned only with the film rating based on the contents of the motion picture and the authorities nowhere deals with excision or modification of the film contents as it is followed by our Censor Board Authorities. 3/6/2015

Cinematograph Act,1952 and The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. :

Cinematograph Act,1952 and The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983. Provides for the certification to the films for public exhibition To regulate the film content by censorship Empowered Central Govt. to establish the CBFC and FCAT CBFC: Main Function: to certify films fit for public exhibition May certify with rate: “UA” for unrestricted public exhibition “A” for adults only “S” restricted only to certain member of any profession or a class. May also ask filmmakers to carry out certain excisions or modifications to avoid- Breach of public peace and harmony or to avoid hurting the religious sentiments of any community of a particular region, etc. May also refuse to certify the film if it is not suitable for public exhibition.

Other provisions:

Other provisions The Act of 1952 also provides (Sect. 6(1))– Central Govt. can call for the records from the CFBC except matter pending before the Appellate Tribunal at any stage to issue the necessary orders to dispose off the matter and the board must comply with such orders immediately. Act also empowers Central Govt. or local authority to ban exhibition of film in any region or a state if it likely to breach LAW AND ORDER and PUBLIC PEACE. Sect. 8 also provides for the rule making powers on Central Govt. Special mention can be made to Rule 11. – provides a duty on the Censor Board to assess public reactions to the film before issuing the Certificate for the public exhibition. This shows the CBFC does not enjoy utmost autonomy to decide the fate of the Films. 3/6/2015

Film Censorship and Judicial Approach:

Film Censorship and Judicial Approach K.A. Abbas v. Union of India : SC says films are to be treated separately from other forms of art and expression because a film has the ability of stirring up the emotions more deeply then any other product of art.


Contd… S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram : The Madras High Court revoked the ‘U-Certificate’ issued to a Tamil film called “Ore Oru Gramathile”. The film was about reservation policy in jobs as such policy was based on caste and was unfair Brahmins. The SC on appeal overruled the High Court decision and upheld the freedom of Speech and Expression 3/6/2015


Contd… Ramesh v. Union of India : TV serial ‘TAMAS’ (Darkness) depicted the Hindu-Muslim tension before the partition of India. The Mumbai High Court allowed the screening of the serial. On appeal to the SC upheld the High Court’s decision and the film was issued a “U” Certificate and was permitted to be released and telecast. 3/6/2015


Contd… Sree Raghavendra Films v. Government of Andhra Pradesh : Exhibition of ‘Bombay’ in its Telugu version was suspended in Andhra Pradesh under Section 8(1) of the A.P. Cinemas Regulation Act, 1955, as it may cause hurting of sentiments of some community despite being certified by the CBFC. Court discovered that the suspending authority had not watched the movie at all, hence it quashed the suspension order and allowed the movie to be exhibited.


Contd… The Da Vinci Code : Controversial movie released in 65 countries including India. The Christian communities from India protested the film alleging that it sent an anti-Christian message. The CBFC gave the film “A” certificate and cleared it but forced the distributor, Sony Pictures to insert a 15 second legal disclaimer both at the beginning and at the end of the film stating that the movie was purely a tale of fiction. 3/6/2015

Some Recent Controversial Films:

19 Some Recent Controversial Films PK – Initially this film was a biggest hit and got a good response at the BOX OFFICE. It has been also considered as the highest earning film in India as well as abroad. But still a controversy erupted against it and some of the religious groups started protesting the screening of the film as according to them it hurts the religious feeling of almost all the communities around India.


Contd… MSG (Messenger of God) : This is based on the Dera Saccha Sauda Chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. Written, produced, acted and directed by the Dera Chief himself. The film was examined by the CBFC and found that it was unsuitable for public exhibition as it is showing the self-styled guru projecting himself as a godman. CBFC refused to grant clearance. Appeal was filed before the FCAT which was fast tracked and was cleared within 24 hours which normally takes 15 to 30 days as per the procedure. The Chief of the CBFC couldn’t stand the pressure of too much interference by the political leaders at the CBFC level as well as FCAT level, she resigned from the post. Recently a petition seeking ban on the film has been filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court by a Sikh Body Kalgidhar Sewak Jatha. They argue that the screening of the film, MSG would be a serious threat to the law and order situation and peace of the States of Punjab and Haryana. It is also alleged that the Dera Chief has been accused of some of the heinous crimes such as rape, murder and castration of followers. 3/6/2015


Conclusion Though the producer and directions enjoy the freedom to free Speech and Expression, while exercising such freedom we must also remember that the same Constitution also provides for the religious freedom to all the citizens of India. We have movies such as Amar Akbar Anthony, starring Amitabh Bachhan, Vinod Khanna and Rishi Kapoor, where all the three religion ie., Hindu, Muslim and Christian are given equal respect. It is suggested that the filmmakers should not attempt to cross the boundaries demarcated by the reasonable restrictions provided under Art. 19(2). They should exercise their self-restrain and ensure that no religious sentiments of any community or region get hurt by their free speech and expression through movies. The CBFC must be allowed to function independently without any body’s interference and must be given more autonomous powers to it. CBFC must be restricted to the work of rating the films instead of censoring as per the content of the movie and let the public may use their own discretion while watching the movie.


3/6/2015 THANK YOU!

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