Recently, many filmmakers openly criticised the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for its stringent rules. Films like Arjun Reddy, PSV Garuda Vega, Okkadu Migiladu and Adirindi among others were asked to either cut a few dialogues or mute them altogether. Although the censor board has been in the news earlier, this is the first time that many filmmakers are giving vent to their feelings.
“Are we living in a democratic country? You can’t use the word Prime Minister in a film and you can’t show a police officer in negative light. We are here to entertain people and are not making films against any government or person. The censor board is not acting according to the rule book and is completely ignoring the creativity of the filmmaker,” says Praveen Sattaru, director of PSV Garuda Vega, adding that he was asked to mute the word ‘Prime Minister’!
He is not the only person to face the censor’s strictures. Director Ajay of Okkadu Migiladu is fuming after the censor board asked him to cut a few scenes and dialogues. “The people who are supposed to certify my film do not understand its creativity. Often people criticise filmmakers for not coming up with good films and when we come up with one or two, the censor board is killing their creativity. If they trouble filmmakers like this, how can anyone come up with a new genre of films?” questions Ajay, who has shown a small portion of the LTTE as part of his film. “The censor board feels that I am glorifying the LTTE. But they are not looking at the overall film,” says the filmmaker, adding, “CBFC is not meant to cut dialogues or scenes, it should only certify the film with grades like A, U/A, or U. Instead, they are creating a lot of problems.”
“What is the film fraternity doing? Why can’t they agitate and request the government to make proper guidelines? It’s pathetic to see that our fraternity is completely silent. They should seriously think about it instead of discussing petty issues at the Film Chamber,” says producer and director Thammareddy Bharadwaj.
“The censor board should allow freedom of speech and expression and not cut dialogues or scenes senselessly,” fumes Thammareddy. When the Tamil film Mersal released, a dialogue in the film on GST had become controversial. Its Telugu version Adirindi was supposed to release a while ago. But when the Telugu version was finally released on Thursday, the censor board asked that the dialogue be muted.
“There is something really wrong with the board. The chairman of the CBFC clearly said they allowed the same even in the Telugu version. So how can it be cut?” asks Thammareddy. Is the Regional Censor Board acting on the wishes of the government? “I don’t know whether it is getting instructions from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting or if it wants to show solidarity to the government,” says Praveen Sattaru. Though the censor board has been in the news earlier too, this is the first time so many from the fraternity are lashing out. Will the members of the fraternity approach the censor board? “Yes, I heard that new rules are coming, so we want to see them first and then we will meet the censor officials,” says Gemini Kiran, president of the Telugu Film Chamber of Commerce.