Mumbai – The credibility of the movie censored board is at stake. If we see the central board of film certification regulating under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952.As apex institution regulations norms changed over a time. But moral policing on Movies and OTT platforms is required at all? Or does the audience need to see content from a different perspective? This is the biggest question mark for Indians right now. Let us check the background and outcome of it.
The Father of Indian cinema, Dr.Dadasaheb Phalke, has changed the film industry scenario in India. It is almost invented on the Indian continent. Many Indian still are not aware of Dadasaheb Phalke, which is the saddest thing for me as an Indian. Marathi cinema ‘Harishchandrachi factory’ depicts the journey of life of Dadasaheb Phalke and his struggle and passion for movies. The Indian film Industry experienced many ups and downs and gave glamour to ordinary people as actors or actresses. In fact, Industry made stars. Not Stars made Industry.
Things are changed over a period –
- Indian censorship pattern change as time changes.
- With a change in cinema, technology, and subjects, is moral policing changed?
- Majorly Art movies are remaining for film festivals? Now no commercial movies are that profitable!
- OTT changed the entire game of the film Industry.
- Are parameters changing as per convenience and ideology of film censor board directors?
- Is cinema facing due to hooliganism by political parties?
- The movie Boycott trend has often become dominating.
Let’s have a look at a scenario.
Film censor board have a long history since the early 50s. It was an era of Devanand, Dilip Kumar, and other film stars. Subjects are more focused on family oriented message driven films having melodious songs and emotional dialogues. Then gradually, conception changed Bollywood themes, stories, and viewpoints of the story, and changing perspectives made Bollywood more commercial. The regional industry also started making bases commercially. From black and white screen gradually became Eastman colour, 75mm and 4D changes empowered the quality of film presentations. The subject also changed from time to time in the late 60s. In the early ’70s, it was a trend of films about angry young men, dacoit based films like Sholay and Deewar became blockbusters similarly, films of Amol Palekar worked very well though the audience were different.80’s and ’90s was the era of most commercial films which continued trend till early 2000. In some exceptional films, more movies are focused on masala based scripts that highlight hero, heroine, and one villain formula. Early 2000 many movies were seen from art films like Astitva. My brother Nikhil developed a taste for the audience for underrated flicks.
The whole point is that as per the development of Indian cinema, censorship patterns also changed and modified with the consultation of film directors and the producers advisory council. But the essence of censorship was the same movies are censored according to content in the film for all audiences, A for those above 12, A for adults that become norms. Directive principles also changed. The usual bad words, rape or molestation scenes, and fighting scenes in the movie become at least UA and A for adults and mature themes explicitly made for adults. But films have everyday bad words that are considered in the A category. Though Normal abuse, violence, and kissing scenes became UA in early 2000. It might be censor board has changed policies as the era changes. But if we see a discrepancy, rated films become UA, and A-rated films are either censored in UA or banned.
In the current digitalization era, things have completely changed. Censorship has become much more mature and allows bold content in UA, A as per segregation of content. Unless it is exceptionally controversial, censored board adapted changes. But if we see, there are no consistencies in Censor board decision making. Some films are allowed to release without any censored content, and some movies are banned based on one or two controversial scenes.
Either it is political pressure, political agenda, or maybe different philosophy of censor board directors at different times. There was no implementation of equal statutory plans for all movies. Political interference is the main reason and open secret in our society. Without watching movies, political workers or any activist can do agitation or vandalism openly, as we see this from time to time. Everyone knows it is a tie-up between politicians and film producers for better film publicity. But few movies are made from an artistic viewpoint after much hard work and dedication. These small film producers suffer the loss of money to political hooligans.
Movies like Arakshan not having a single controversial scene though it is based on a debatable topic, Movies like Lipstick under my burkha were banned earlier for certification. Later they granted the movie for release, which included modest sex scenes. Raman Raghav’s film gave an A certificate, as expected, but the theme of the movie is highly mature and psychological. Surprisingly recently, Padmavat received oppose for release as a controversial name of the film for the offending name of Rani Padmavati. It became Padmavat for a lot of oppose from Karani Sena. Once a while SRK’s My name is Khan movie was demanded to be banned as Shiv Sena had opposed it. So we find it difficult to grasp the exact policy on censorship. Are working directive principles really working for universal cinema policy? That is a big question mark.
Art films are the biggest victims of politics in films. Filmmakers are parallel cinema have different interests just than profitability. The audience is less for art films, but critically acclamation is surplus for them. Many actors took inspiration from the late Smita Patil leading actress in Marathi and Hindi industries. So finally, the discrepancy in the censorship formula gives birth to OTT.
OTT changed everything significantly. No one thought of OTT becoming a big player in the entire world. Now OTT platform has literally become the biggest platform. Without Ad’s exclusive online content streaming changed everything in the content spectrum. Every equation changed from the OTT invention. Straight direct content to customer concept creates a challenge for the advertising industry as well. Matured themes, adult content, sex scenes, and disturbing scene become a hub for the OTT platform. Consumers started preferring freedom from censorship, as OTT allows a variety of content without any restriction. We need to consider OTT from both perspectives.
OTT became a great platform, but it became a tool for spreading hatred and uncontrolled censored content in the name of creative freedom. Even it will be accepted as far as the story is concerned. But in the name of story demand, it became special tool for taking commercial leverage out of it. We need to consider both angles. Now government is considering taking steps against abuse and nudity on OTT platforms. It is good or bad is debatable topic. Even OTT giving children locked options but now children are smart enough to unlock it. Is parental guidance really needed to watch OTT content?
Now stiff competition for content management platforms will create new options and platforms in the upcoming days. The authentic measurement of all platforms will monitor by the censor board sooner or later, but who will audit or frame new policies that is also not known fact.
Nowadays, the new ‘Boycott ‘on movies trend is growing at speed among right-wing supporters. But they failed to understand many ordinary people; backstage artists have livelihood depend on the film industry. Big stars like Ranabir Kapoor, Alia Bhat, and Aamir khan have already made their careers. It will not affect massively on their careers, but it is going massively impact Hindu artists itself. Hatred can spread Hatred; no positive signs will be for civilized society. Neither will it work for Nationalist Social media troops, trollers, and Whatsapp University.
It is time to decide. As citizens, all we have to take a stand on it. I am not going to be judgmental about this. Now you have to determine what is good or bad for society.
This opinion article written by Mohit Soman, Senior Journalist Prittle Prattle News.
(The opinion expressed in the article are personal )