Industry Reacts To CBFC’s New Rating Reports

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CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur remained unavailable for comment.
CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur remained unavailable for comment.

MUMBAI: If the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has it’s way, soon film ratings may be completely different from the standard ‘U’, ‘U/A’, ‘A’ and ‘C’ (children) certificates, say reports. 

In a drastic move, the CBFC has reportedly laid the foundation to amend certain key provisions in the existing Cinematograph Act 1952, categorizing Indian films into different slots: Above 12 years of age (Under Parental Guidance), Above 15 years of age (Under Parental Guidance) or Above 18 years of age.

Sources reveal that at a closed-door meeting recently, the proposal was put forth to incorporate these changes. Present at the meeting were Riteish Sidhwani, Ramesh Sippy, President of the Producers’ Guild Mukesh Bhatt, President of the Association of Motion Pictures and TV Programme Producers (AMTPP) Sajid Nadiadwala, Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association Chief TP Agarwal, CBFC Chief Leela Samson, CBFC CEO Pankaja Thakur, and other senior members of the special panel.

While some members of the film fraternity have opposed this amendment, others like certain distributors and exhibitors cite this as a “welcome move”.

Says PVR Pictures’ President, Kamal Gianchandani, “We see this as a good development, in line with developed markets like the U.S. The four existing categories of ‘U’, ‘U/A’, ‘A’ and ‘C’ is very broad, and segregating the audience as per age group seems a good move. The Censor Board has recognized the changing consumption patterns and shift in cultural ethos in the Indian context, where more youth is being ushered into theatres.”

So are there any adverse impacts of this changed rating?

“As of now, we don’t see any negative impacts on the industry by this proposed amendment,” says Gianchandani.

On the other hand, some foresee complications in the revised ratings scheme. Says President of Cinemax India Ltd, Sanjay Dalia, “I feel that it will be more complicated and the occupancy will be affected. The family audience won’t be comfortable as the business would be lost if all members don’t fall in the regular category.”

Filmmakers like Mahesh Bhatt and Ramesh Taurani echo a similar sentiment: “If the Cinematograph Act has to be amended, let the first step not be taken in such a tearing hurry. The proposal will have to be passed by the Parliament. I recommend treading with caution and responsibility. Moreover, there should be consensus of all parties involved,” said Bhatt.

TIPS head honcho Ramesh Taurani adds: “In foreign countries, parents are very particular about the films their children watch. They even accompany their children if the specification spells it out. I don’t see that happening here. I’ve often seen many 15-year-olds coming to theatres with their friends to watch objectionable films.”

We attempted to contact CBFC CEO Mrs. Pankaja Thakur, who was heard telling her assistant while we were put on hold, that she “would not like to comment on this” as it is “not true”.

What begs questioning is this sudden change of heart, and this urgent need to change the way films are rated for audiences. One would almost think this is an attempt to ape the way western films are rated. In the U.S specifically, films come with either a ‘G’ (General audience), ‘PG’ (Parental Guidance), ‘PG 13’ (Parents strongly cautioned), ‘R’ (Restricted) or ‘NC 17’ (No one 17 & under admitted).