Over 1,400 filmmakers-actors sign letter protesting proposed Cinematograph Act amendments
In a major change to the censorship laws over entertainment endeavors in the country, the Indian government will be able to review any movie, even after it has been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). This can become reality if the proposed amendments to the Cinematograph Act are accepted. Naturally, several filmmakers and academicians have raised their voices against the Bill.
MIB says it's to 'tackle the menace of film piracy'
The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2021 would apparently enable the central government to have "the power to reverse the decision of the Board." The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting maintains that these amendments have been proposed "to tackle the menace of film piracy." Earlier this month, the Ministry had asked the public to submit their comments on the draft of the Bill by July 2.
Authority can prevent certification of a movie under these conditions
The amendments sought will give the government "revisionary powers" on account of violation of Section 5B (1) of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The said section says a film will not be certified if it's against the interests of "the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency/morality, or involves defamation/contempt of court," in the opinion of the competent authority.
Filmmakers, academicians penned feedback letter criticizing move
In protest, a group of filmmakers, students, and academicians have penned a 12-page feedback letter, criticizing the amendments and demanding its rollback. The open note opines that these amendments threaten "freedom of expression" and can "render filmmakers powerless." "We welcome the move to address piracy-related concerns but suggest that given that existing law penalizes piracy, there is no need to introduce further penal provisions."
Anurag Kashyap, Farhan Akhtar and others have signed the letter
Calling it "another blow to film fraternity," the note was signed by actors and filmmakers such as Anurag Kashyap, Hansal Mehta, Zoya Akhtar, Vetri Maaran, Shabana Azmi, Farhan Akhtar, Nandita Das, and Dibakar Banerjee. It has gathered as many as 1,400 signatories.
The film fraternity had called out government over FCAT too
The group has also called for the reinstatement of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT). Tracing back, this statutory body, constituted to hear appeals by filmmakers aggrieved by the orders of the CBFC, was dissolved in April. This means all filmmakers now have to approach the High Court if they're not happy with CBFC's decision. Mehta, Vishal Bhardwaj, Richa Chadha had criticized this move.