Students from Osmania University ransacked the office of the CBFC in Hyderabad on Monday. Protesters claimed the Board has effected an undeclared ban on Buddham Gachami, because it discusses caste politics (Photo: DC)
Hyderabad: The Central Board of Film Certification is in a fix over its refusal to grant certification to pro-Dalit films. While it recently cleared a film on social reformer Mahatma Jyothi Rao Phule, and another titled Reservation, the regional board at Hyderabad has refused certification to Sharanam Gachchami, on the grounds that "it had shown all upper castes in bad light."
The film’s makers have now applied to the Revising Committee of the CBFC, headed by actor Jeevita Rajasekhar, which is yet to watch the movie. There have been calls to reform the CBFC Act and guidelines, and to appoint Dalits to the Censor Board’s advisory panel, which currently, in Hyderabad, has members mostly from upper caste and backward castes but only a few Dalits.
CBFC’s regional director P. Rajasekhar said four Examining Committee members had watched Sharanam Gachchami and had unanimously refused to certify it. "They (the film makers) have delayed showing the film to the review committee. The attackers came and asked for my name. They vandalised the whole office and left a pamphlet," he said, referring to attacks on the regional censor board on Monday.
"We have cited reasons for refusal in writing to the producers and director of the film as it is likely to incite hatred and disturb public peace," Mr Rajasekhar claims.
The film also portrays Rohit Vemula’s suicide and several alleged atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat and UP. Dalit writer and Kendra Sahitya Akademi winner Pasunuri Ravinder says the film was made "within the ambit of the Constitution. CBFC is acting in violation of fundamental rights. Cinema doesn’t just mean entertainment; it should have a social message. Sharanam Gachchami is the film of majority Bahujans of this country. It is undemocratic to stop the movie."
A former CBFC official said, "Usually, certification is refused when a film is likely to cause hatred between communities. Usually, in such cases, EC shall have a Dalit member to make a fair judgement."
He said there have been problems regularly with issues regarding caste.
"Brahmins had opposed Manchu Vishnu’s film and Manda Krishna has opposed certain scenes in a film called Kantri," he said. CBFC Central Board member Jeevita Rajasekhar says the ransacking of the office of the CBFC was "lawlessness".
"They have an option of review committee and Tribunal. In fact, I was ready to watch the film on Saturday or Monday, but they have sought time till Feb. 27. In fact, after I took over, the RC cleared six movies with cuts after they were refused certificate by the EC," she said.
She added: "Sensitivities differ from state to state. But the CBFC has same rules in all states. The Government can change the rules. In Kerala, women don’t cover their chests with a saree, but this is not the case in the other southern states. There should be separate censor guidelines for each region or region. The Shyam Benegal Committee recommendations have not been implemented yet."