Uncanny is the world of cinema. We know it is not real, yet we allow its firm grip over our minds and our behaviour.
In India, lives are integrated with Bollywood through the cultural fabric. Bollywood celebrities command – whether brand endorsements, selling packaged foods, colas, grooming products, choice of holiday destinations and the kind of financial planning we must do. Unarguably, Bollywood exploits its larger than life role to influence the masses.
To control this mammoth influencer, and ensure that content is appropriate, government has vested power in Centre Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to certify releases of all movies after scrutiny and essential editing, if required. The body is mandated to a challenging and impressive job and it’s leadership has a dynamic role to play.
The purpose of this blog is to outline the conflicts experienced by CBFC and if I was to imagine, being a member on the board of CBFC – I would be concerned with the recent developments in Haryana, UP and Delhi where we saw chaos, violence, destruction and paralysis of normal life for hours – and bring the discussions into fold of agenda for the next board meeting. As a body which studies the content for entertainment through the medium of cinema, there is a need for the leadership to introspect over the events after arrest and judicial custody of the rape convict Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh by the trial court.
Why must CBFC be concerned?
Singh, a self-proclaimed guru, acted as himself – playing a protagonist in a self-financed venture, the movie MSG-1 and its sequel MSG-2, turned to be more popular acronyms than the monosodium glutamate MSG we all get warned about. Unfortunately, there was no warning about the impact of MSG 1 -2. Which is giving ulcers to three state governments, in a riot like situation that took lives of 30, wounded over 250 and caused humiliation to numerous women and men in Khaki.
We are ashamed!
Just a month ago CBFC chairperson was cornered by media for seeking explanation for the 27 cuts it had ordered for a movie titled, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ (LUMB) – citing, overtly woman-oriented content, loud/lewd and may be too progressive to ‘you know who’. The movie went ahead to be a commercial success. A modest release through 400 screens, eventually garnered collection of close to Rs.20 Crore, by the end of August.
Flashback to the year 2015, the then chairwoman had resigned complaining of ruling party’s interference in CBFC affairs – it happened in the wake of controversy pertaining to her observations about MSG, wherein she has termed MSG to be a feature-length advertorial for the Dera and its leader Ram Rahim Singh. But the incumbent was replaced with a much malleable choice who suits the apex voice.
Some thinking minds may introspect whether the Bollywood can step up to accept its clear role as influencer through movies to a ubiquitous mass of highly gullible and uninformed audience. The CBFC may observe its role as a facilitator who lost its plot by offering a platform that popularised a none entity to cult figure. Getting content out, without context is a disaster. Incessant trolling of LUMB and kid-gloves to MSG have clear bias visible to any movie fan. A thought needs to be applied from the certification view-point as well as the approach of film fraternity which is driven only by money and fame.
CBFC’s manipulations in year 2015, helped in idolizing a self-proclaimed godman, now convicted and jailed for rape – has now unfolded into a mishap, Certifying of MSG films, a case intellectuals believed to be ‘harmless’, while others joked about – isn’t a joke anymore!