The Shyam Benegal committee, tasked with defining the future path of the film censorship process, has suggested a revolutionary change, in the Indian context, of how movies are to be certified. The committee’s recommendations are in line with evolved international thinking on censorship, which is a bad word in the art of audio-visual entertainment. If the government were to accept the proposals in toto, the Central Board of Film Certification might have to give up the scissors altogether because it would have no power to snip scenes out of movies. It would merely have to classify films according to what audiences are to be considered suitable for viewing them, but with a few more classification heads — like U/A plus-12 and plus-15 as well as two adult categories of simply “Adult” and “Adult with Caution” — thrown in.
The suggestions are not fanciful, even if they do seem to have sprung from filmmakers’ hearts, which is predictable considering that leading film personalities were on the committee. It is a moot point whether the government would accept a blanket “no censorship” principle and if society would be ready to accept the slight excesses that are bound to crop up with the granting of carte blanche. But then, given the age we live in, every Indian already has access to uncensored films on the Internet which are even more universally accessible on drawing room television sets through international apps like Netflix, Chromecast, etc. A few riders are also built in as safeguards on national security even as the committee is calling for sweeping reforms. It will be interesting to see how liberal the government will be on this.