The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), a statutory body under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, has been scrapped by the Modi government. FCAT, which was constituted vide Section 5D of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (37 of 1952) in the 1980s, had become a place for unemployed film critics and failed but ideologically loaded filmmakers. Every year, the Government of India used to spent crores of rupees on this appellate body which has been decided to be scrapped now.
If a film is not approved by the Central Board of Film Certification, the filmmaker can challenge the decision in the court and the role of the intermediary (appellate body), which was filled with people who were identified as ‘intellectuals’ of the cinema world, has been done away with.
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This led to hue & cry by the ‘intellectuals’ of the cinema world who took to media platforms and social media to register their angst against the decision. “I don’t know what the rationale is, what was the reason for doing this. I don’t want to comment on it at all. But FCAT was a body that was presided over by a judge and they had very eminent members,” said Sharmila Tagore, who was the chairman of CBFC for seven years (2004-2011) during the UPA government.
The ’eminent member’ and ’eminent intellectual’ gang has come out to declare it as a sad day for the Indian cinema.
People like Vishal Bhardwaj, who produced seditious content (Haider), criticised the decision. Hansal Mehta, a consistent critic of the Modi government, declared the decision as arbitrary and restrictive. “Do the high courts have a lot of time to address film certification grievances? How many film producers will have the means to approach the courts? The FCAT discontinuation feels arbitrary and is definitely restrictive. Why this unfortunate timing? Why take this decision at all?” he tweeted.
Richa Chaddha, who is now a full-time Modi critic on Twitter, tried to become sarcastic.
The current members of FCAT include people like Bina Gupta, Saibal Chatterjee, Madhu Jain and Shekhar Iyer, who, very often, share the content of TheWire on their social media.
The government’s decision to scrap FCAT has removed an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and would save crores of rupees every year. The hue and cry from ‘intellectuals’ of the cinema world shall continue as it is for the last six and a half years.