India recently traumatised by a particularly nasty gang rape incident in Delhi. Somehow films seem to have been selected to
carry the can, and so censorship has had to be ratcheted up a notch. But it is not easy to find much else to censor when nudity and sex have been banned for years anyway. However a suitably ludicrous scapegoat was found in dance numbers where an admiring
chorous line of guys swarm round a female singer. These so called 'item songs' now seemed destined to invoke an adults only A certificate from the film censors. And the first victim has inevitably kicked up a bit of a todo.
The Central Board of Film Certification's (CBFC) initial decision to give Priyanka Chopra's item number Babli Badmaash in Shootout At Wadala an A certificate has taken the film industry by shock and surprise. An A certification disallows the producers, Balaji Motion Pictures and audio label, Sony Music, from promoting the track on television during prime time.
Tanuj Garg of Balaji Motion Pictures said:
After submitting Babli Badmaash for certification, we were informed that it would get an 'A' because it was an item track. We were shocked and informed the CBFC that the industry was not aware of such a rule. We were later told that there was no blanket
directive; songs would be certified according to their content.
Soon after, the Film and Television Producers Guild wrote to the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, stating that the industry deserved to be informed about the new regulation. The guild explained how most of these special songs are mainly used as a
promotional song/video. If dance numbers are going to be held back after being labelled item songs , all pre-release marketing plans will go down the drain, they said.
The film industry, understandably, is against any arbitrary change in the certification of item songs. A senior producer asked:
What is an item number? How does one define it? It is a phrase with no formal dictionary meaning. It is an industry-coined phrase. A rule cannot be made about something that is so inherently vague and subjective.
In the meanwhile, the industry is waiting with bated breath to see if Babli Badmaash is cleared by the board's appeals committee.
Meanwhile the Censor Board has claimed that there is no move yet to give A certificate to all dance numbers and such film songs will be examined on a case-to-case basis. Leela Samson, Chairperson, CBFC, said in a statement:
For the last few weeks there seems to have been an impression in the media, and also within the film industry, that CBFC has adopted a rule to certify all dance numbers with an 'A' certificate. I would like to unambiguously clarify that no such decision
has been taken either by the Board or by I and B Ministry, and nor is such a move being contemplated,
The guidelines governing certification of films, trailors, or any part thereof, simply state that they will be certified depending on the age-group of audiences that they are suitable for. Hence, dance numbers too will continue to be examined purely on a
case-to-case basis to see whether they are suitable for a U, UA, or A certificate.
India's Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC) has written new rules about slapping scenes in movies.
A film titled Bazar-E-Husn is being issued an adults only 'A' certificate with three cuts for its depiction of violence against women.
Says producer AK Mishra:
They have asked me to delete three slapping scenes, including the one in which a villain slaps his wife. I was told by the committee members that they have a directive from the board that atrocities against women cannot be shown in cinema.
The CBFC letter addressed to the producer states that only the visuals of slapping scenes after marriage could be retained. The remaining slapping scenes have to be deleted.
Insisting that this is a period film, Mishra says, I find these rules ridiculous. He has refused to accept the cuts and now the film has been appealed to the revising committee.
India's Information and Broadcasting Ministry has called for a truce between filmmakers and the film censors of the CBFC over new censorship ideas.
Films are being blamed for recent rape cases and generally bad attitudes to women. Pressure has been brought to bear on the censors to cut more from films. However as the portrayal of sex is already banned from Indian films, then the censors have been
scratching round for ideas. They have come up with the idea of 'item songs' being adult rated. These are songs where a female singer is the focus of attention from a set full of admiring guys. The censors have also come up with the idea of banning girls
(but not wives) from being slapped by men.
The Information & Broadcasting Ministry has now stepped in to broker peace between the warring parties - the producers and the Board. The I&B Ministry has called for a meeting with all parties concerned between April 3 and April 5.
The meeting will set the pace for the necessary amendments to the Cinematograph Act 1952, after taking into consideration suggestions by all concerned. Special song and dance numbers, foul language, and scenes portraying actors and actresses smoking and
drinking are likely to be discussed during the meet.
Film producer Mukesh Bhatt:
Today, there is a lot of ambiguity about what will be cut and what will go through. As things stand, there are no guidelines.
Meanwhile, a filmmaker on the condition of anonymity, said censors seem to have turned a bit too prudish:
Recently, Leela Samson assured there is a wrong impression within the film industry that the Censor Board has adopted a rule to certify all special numbers with an 'A' (adults only) certificate. Despite the assurance, filmmakers are extremely cagey. The
meeting on April 3 is very good news for the films being made.