There’s No Room for Censorship in a Democracy: Shyam Benegal

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal speaks exclusively to The Quint about his views on censorship and democracy

2 min read

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal has always had strong views on censorship. And finally, as the head of a review panel appointed to suggest amends to the Cinematograph Act of 1952, he has spoken out strongly against the Censor Board’s power to cut and edit films as it pleases. In an exclusive interview with The Quint, the master director points out the existing flaws in film censorship, the role of the CBFC and why certification is more suited to a nation full of diverse opinions.

Benegal’s panel comprises illustrious creative minds like veteran actor Kamal Hassan, filmmaker Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra, ad-man Piyush Pandey, filmmaker Goutam Ghose, film journalist Bhawana Somaaya, the National Film Development Corporation’s managing director Nina Lath Gupta; and the Films Division’s Joint Secretary K Sanjay Murthy. Unanimously they made the following key recommendations to the government on certification and censorship-

1. The right to make changes to a film lies solely with its owner.
2. The CBFC can classify and certify a film, or refuse the same altogether. But it does not have the right to run a pair of scissors on a film.
3. UA12+ and UA15+ certifications are more suited to teenage audiences.
4. ‘Adult With Caution’ is an additional classification meant to be carried as a disclaimer for explicit violence and sex in a film.
5. A director’s cut must be preserved in the nation’s archives as film history, irrespective of the censored version that was screened in theatres.

But Shyam Benegal finds immense clarity in Section 5B (1) of the Cinematograph Act of 1952, unlike the CBFC and other filmmakers of our times. His panel’s recommendations hope to tackle the functioning of the censor board, but he seems to be in no mood to suggest amends to the clause itself.

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