The central government last week brought in the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021 and opened it to the general public for comments until July 2. The bill draft seeks to grant revisionary powers to the government which enables it to “re-examine” films already cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The draft adds a provision on account of violation of Section 5B (1) (principles for guidance in certifying films) of the Act.
“Since the provisions of Section 5B(1) are derived from Article 19(2) of the Constitution and are non-negotiable, it is also proposed in the Draft Bill to add a proviso to sub-section (1) of section 6 to the effect that on receipt of any references by the Central Government in respect of a film certified for public exhibition, on account of violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act, the Central Government may, if it considers it necessary so to do, direct the Chairman of the Board to re-examine the film,” the notification said.
The I&B Ministry also added, “The Supreme Court has also opined that the Legislature may, in certain cases, overrule or nullify the judicial or executive decision by enacting an appropriate legislation”.
Lately, the films certified by the CBFC have come under intense scrutiny from the public for allegedly pushing their anti-Hindu agendas. A recent example being Vidya Balan starrer Sherni where real-life tigress (Avni) killer Asghar Ali Khan becomes kalawa-wearing Ranjan Rajhans aka Pintu Bhaiya. The CBFC granted a UA certificate to it and while the viewers complained about it to no avail.
Similar was the case with Aamir Khan’s PK which was dubbed highly controversial and anti-Hindu in nature. Despite, a sizeable populace not liking what they saw on the screen and taking offence in the way their religion was depicted, the CBFC took no action.
Naturally, the crusaders of the Urduwood are against the decision of the government to introduce the bill as it will thwart their ability to churn Hinduphobic content.
The ministry, also added a provision to penalise film piracy, iterating that pirated versions of films on the internet, causes huge losses to the film industry and government exchequer.
“In most cases, illegal duplication in cinema halls is the originating point of piracy. At present, there are no enabling provisions to check film piracy in the Cinematograph Act, 1952 making it necessary to have a provision in the Act to check film piracy,” it said. The draft bill proposes to insert section 6AA which prohibits unauthorised recording.
The new draft also proposes to divide the categories into further age-based groups: U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. The division of age categories closely follows the comprehensive set of rules formulated by the government for the OTT platforms. As reported by TFI, OTT platforms will have to classify content under a universal rating (U), U/A seven plus, U/A thirteen plus, U/A sixteen plus and Adult, for people over 18 and will have to prominently display it.
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Recently, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), a statutory body under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting was scrapped by the Modi government. Naturally, the liberals and the pseudo-intellectuals of the industry came out in numbers and targeted the government for the move and called it unconstitutional.
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However, the truth is that FCAT 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 only pushed the agenda of its members. With the government receiving the ‘revisionary powers’, the filmmakers that used to wield their influence in the CBFC and got away by publishing anti-Hindu content are fearing that they will be brought under check and thus the clamour around it.