Six Film Trade Associations Take Stand Against Cinematograph Act Draft
Several filmmakers like Shyam Benegal, Dibakar Banerjee, & actor Kamal Haasan also spoke up against the amendments.
Six film trade associations have send a joint representation to the Information and Broadcast Ministry, taking a stand against the proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act 1952. The new draft bill gives the Centre unlimited revisionary powers to re-check films that have already been certified by the CBFC.
The six trade associations involved in the joint representation are: The Film and Television Producers’ Guild of India Ltd., the Indian Film and Television Producers’ Council (IFTPC), the Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA), the Western Indian Film Producers’ Association (WIFPA), the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) and the Indian Film & Television Directors’ Association (IFTDA).
The current Cinematograph Act has only three categories for film certification: U for unrestricted public exhibition, U/A signifying 'parental guidance required for children under 12', or A for adult films.
The 2021 amendments include the introduction of subdivisions in the U/A category like ‘UA 7+’, ‘UA 13+’ and ‘UA 16+’. About this, the representation stated that the distinction between the A, and U/UA categories was widely accepted by filmmakers and the CBFC. They added that, if sub-divisions are considered, the factors which classify the films accordingly should be clarified.
The proposed amendments also include the following:
(a) Prohibiting unauthorised recording of any film without the prior written authorisation of the author (as defined in the Copyright Act, 1957).
(b) Penal provisions for contravention of (d) above — including imprisonment for a term of not less than 3 (three) months but not exceeding 3 (three) years and a fine not less than 3 (three) lakh rupees but which can also extend to 5% of the audited gross production or both.
The amendments dealing with unauthorised reproduction of films and piracy are welcomed by the joint representation. They added that the British Board of Film Classification has criteria for age-based classification which could be referred to if the sub-divisions were to be implemented in India.
The trade unions also pointed out that the Mudgal Report (by the Mudgal Committee), the Shyam Benegal Report (by the Shyam Benegal Committee), nor the 2019 draft bill, asked for amendments to section 6(1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
Notwithstanding anything contained in this Part, the Central Government [may, of its own motion, at any stage,] call for the record of any proceeding in relation to any film which is pending before, or has been decided by, the Board.Section 6(1), Cinematograph Act 1952
The representation added that the Central government should only be able to recertify films based on the Article 19(2) of the Indian constitution. These factors are added in the section 5(1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The proposed amendments give the Centre the right to recertify films citing a violation of this section but a certification by the CBFC was assumed to mean that it didn't violate section 5(1).
A film shall not be certified for public exhibition if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of [the sovereignty and integrity of India] the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court or is likely to incite the commission of any offence.Section 5B (1), Cinematograph Act
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