Amid several controversies, the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry has constituted a panel headed by filmmaker Shyam Benegal, to give recommendations to restructure the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
The censor board has been surrounded by many controversies since the beginning of 2015 when the present chairman, Pahlaj Nihalani, took charge.
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Many in the film fraternity are of the opinion that he restricts artistic freedom and that the board has been making arbitrary cuts. A list of banned “cuss” words circulated by Nihalani was also severely criticised.
The decision to form a panel came on Friday, after the Information and Broadcasting Minister, Arun Jaitley, said the censor board will be revamped as he would like it to be ‘controversy free.’
The panel includes filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, ad man Piyush Pandey, film critic Bhawana Somaaya, National Film Development Council MD Nina Lath Gupta and joint secretary (films) Sanjay Murthy. They have been directed to submit a report in two months, with recommendations providing a holistic framework that can help the board function in a responsible manner. The panel will also suggest changes in the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
Many people have welcomed this decision and there is hope to see some changes in the near future.
“There is no one better than Shyam Benegal to decide the future of Indian cinema. It is a fabulous step. They have chosen people who are not only good in their field, but are social aware and know what is happening in the country as well,” Anupam Kher told Hindustan Times.
“Shyam Benegal is a very progressive human being and filmmaker… Just look at the way women in his films have been portrayed. I am really happy with the decision. I admire his sensibility and his intellectual capability. Right now, the Censor Board needs a big change which he will bring,” said director-producer Onir, whose film Chauranga ran into trouble with the board.