Shyam Benegal to head panel to revamp Censor Board

RSTV Bureau

File photo of Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani. (PTI)

On Friday, the government constituted a panel of eminent film personalities to revamp the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The committee will be headed by eminent filmmaker Shyam Benegal.

The panel is expected to submit its report within two months and it also includes filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, adman Piyush Pandey and film critic Bhawana Somaaya, National Film Development Council MD Nina Lath Gupta and Joint Secretary (Films) Sanjay Murthy.

An official statement said the panel has been formed “in sync with the vision” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The recommendations of this Committee are expected to provide a holistic framework and enable those tasked with the work of certification of films to discharge their responsibilities keeping in view this framework, the statement said.

“During their deliberations, the Committee would be expected to take note of the best practises in various parts of the world, especially where the film industry is given sufficient and adequate space for creative and aesthetic expression,” the statement said.

It is said that the staffing pattern of the board will also be looked into in an effort to recommend a framework which will provide efficient, transparent user friendly services.

The government’s decision to form a panel comes just days after Information & Broadcasting Minister Arun Jaitley told PTI that the “time has come” to have a re-look at the functioning of Censor Board. The Union Finance Minister had also said that he would like the Certification Board to be “controversy- free”.

Of late the Censor Board has been marred by a series of controversies. Filmmakers have complained of arbitrary objections and cuts sought by the Board. CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani faced a lot of flak for the cuts in the latest James Bond movie ‘Spectre’ which released in India in November.

A list of banned “cuss” words, circulated by CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani had also become a subject of controversy.

When asked, Benegal told PTI that the I&B ministry “spoke to me a couple of days ago on telephone and I am yet to know exactly what the proposal is. There is only one question that is asked to me whether I would like to be a member of the committee, which is looking into the problem of film certification….This is a committee formed by the government to see how effective, transparent and satisfactory the system is.”

On the issue of censorship, Benegal said, “Time to time these things happen. (It has been happening) since 1928, when the censor board was first formed and it later on became the film certification board and so on… Time to time, these things need to be looked at. There is no permanent solution to this problem. This is another committee formed by the government.”

(With inputs from PTI)