By Anil Nagrath

I am not able to understand why we refuse to learn from our mistakes and why we continue committing the same blunders again and again. This fact has been the highlight of the week be it the news of multiple suicidal release of multiple Hindi and Marathi films and also the news of Salman Khan allegedly insulting victims of rape by his off the cuff remark at a press conference which was blown up out of all proportions. This was done by the TRP hungry news hounds of the various news channels who take vicarious delight whenever anything derogatory or any news against anyone connected with the film industry comes to their knowledge. This leads to numerous heated debates with the same old frustrated panelists who have nothing to do but to sit on these panels and criticize anybody who is on the target of that news channel on that day. The blood hound nature of our news media has reached its nadir in terms of credibility because anything and everything is news if it is sensational and if it can be blown out of proportions.

These jokers do not realise the damage that they are doing to the fabric of our country as anything and everything is worthy of prime-time viewing even if it hurts religious sentiments or feelings of the citizens in whose name these journalists claim to expose or debate any topic whether the same is relevant in life or not.

The same helplessness I feel when I see that despite tremendous outcry where the entire film industry came out against the dictatorship and tyranny of the sanskari CBFC Chief, he has not been removed till date. Shri Arun Jaitely, Minister of Information and Broadcasting in his interview to Times Now, has stated that the film industry can be prepared for a pleasant surprise in a couple of weeks as far their problems with CBFC are concerned.
The film industry has reason not to believe the Minister because at the outset of his term, when the Sanskari chief dug out and prepared the so-called cuss word list, the Minister of State for I & B, Shri Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, in a protest meeting by various filmmakers, assured them that the cuss word list was being put on hold. Little did he know that his words were rejected and treated with disdain by the Sanskari chief, who has imposed his cuss list on every film. Any filmmaker who was making a film about a particular environment in which cuss words were the norm rather than the exception and who had the courage of their conviction went to FCAT or Court and got their films cleared with the cuss words proving that the insistence of this chief on implementing the cuss words list through the various committees appointed by him, is wrong and unjustified.

However the Sanskari chief refuses to learn and while he has no qualms in certifying films glorifying the party in power like Shorgul, he has plainly refused certificate to films which are critical of the Government and other realistic films holding a mirror to society, without any logical explanation. It is also a well-known fact that a filmmaker who does not accept the diktat and delete scenes and beep words according to the Sanskari chief, has his film held up for months in the CBFC and even today number of films like Raman Raghav 2 are releasing because of FCAT. The same filmmaker’s Haramkhor is also pending before the FCAT because of the numerous cuts and deletions ordered by the Sanskari chief, who continues snipping films with his scissors even though the Bombay High Court has told him that his job is to certify films and not cut them. It appears he couldn’t care less for the court and the Government is not doing anything about it, which directly means that the Government is aiding and abetting him in torturing and harassing the filmmakers who risk their entire capital and money without any help from the government only to be harassed in the end when the film is complete and about to be released for viewing by a ticket paying audience, whose freedom to watch what they want cannot be challenged by anybody.

The fact that the continuation of this Sanskari chief for even one more day is damaging to the interest of the film industry is proved by his totally anti film industry attitude whereby he is everyday finding one excuse or the other to not only harass and torture but also to deliberately cause financial loss to producers. This he does by raking up long forgotten guidelines which have never been implemented like forcing producers to submit their film for certification only in DCP format, whereas till now films were being viewed on Hard disk/DVD/MOV format. This is being done by him in the name of stopping piracy despite it being pointed out that doing so would result in increasing in costs of screening of the DCP format as it is available in only few preview theatres and moreover for this format, a producer has to incur extra expense of Rs 35,000 per film, which is totally wasted because after recording the DCP once with the censor water mark, the DCP cannot be used anywhere else for anything and is nothing but a total loss for the producer. It also has to be considered that along with films being made in crores which are few and far between, more than 90 percent of films are made in budget of few lakhs and hence they neither need the Surround Sound or Altomos Sound, which is needed for the DCP format and hence the insistence of the CBFC of having DCP for all films, defies logic as how can a Producer making a film of 20 lakhs incur such an unreasonable expense just because CBFC is not secure enough to protect a film from being pirated and hence the film maker has to be penalised in the name of piracy.

The Sanskari chief had tried to implement this DCP system a month back but after protests from associations, he continued watching films on Hard disk/DVD/MOV, but suddenly after the Udta Punjab controversy, he has again decided to assert his rights and is insisting on only DCP format if anybody wants to screen films for certification. One fails to understand as to what he is going to gain by deliberately increasing the cost of the producer, without any benefit to the producer or to the government and does he want the industry to go to court for each of his actions so that he can be exposed and humiliated for his arrogance of power?

It is about time the Minister of I & B, Arun Jaitely lives up to his commitment and we give him the time to implement the Shyam Benegal committee report and changes in guidelines of certification because they are the main cause of trouble. In the meanwhile the least that can be expected out of any government which bothers about its credibility and justice and fairness, is that such a person who has repeatedly shown that he is incapable of the post where he is supposed to be facilitating the producers, but is instead causing every possible road block based on his perception of the guidelines. Therefore the government would be well- advised to change him if it wants to retain its image and credibility.


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