On Friday, the Bombay HC slammed the CBFC for refusing to issue a U certificate to a children’s film. The court was hearing a petition filed by Children’s Film Society (CFS) seeking directions to the CBFC to hear its plea to issue U certificate to its film ‘Chidiakhana’.
A division bench of Justices SC Dharmadhikari and Gautam Patel said yesterday that it was time to redefine the role of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The court has observed that the board thinks that it was the “only one with an iota of intelligence to decide for everyone”.
The board had given the film a universal/adult (U/A) certificate in January this year. The board had objected to an abusive word and a particular scene in it. The board had asked the scene to be removed. The HC bench stated that by asking for the scene and the word to be removed, the board was trying to pretend that such issues do not exist.
Reacting to this, justice Patel said, “Are you (CBFC) ostriches? Put your head in the sand and pretend something does not exist”.
“We actually wonder if the CBFC officials have children of their own. You (CBFC) are a certification board and not a censor board. You will not decide what one wants to watch and see”, said Justice Patel. He added, “nobody has given you (CBFC) the intellectual morality and authority to decide what one wants to watch and see”.
The bench also said, “Looks like we may have to redefine your (CBFC) role entirely. You (CBFC) are forming an opinion that the whole population is infantile and imbecile and you are the only one with an iota of intelligence to decide for everyone”.
The bench said that it would be better to use movies to teach children about issues like racism, discrimination, child labour and drug abuse. The bench opined that the world is changing and so is the art of storytelling.
The CBFC’s Regional Officer has been directed to file an affidavit elaborating and outlining the board’s policy while certifying children’s films. The case would be further heard on August 5th.
The CBFC has been known for its controversial decisions of censoring films. In 2015, Ashoke Pandit, a CBFC member, wrote a scathing letter against CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani. Pandit accused him of acting like a “tyrant” and creating an “anarchic environment”. Pahlaj Nihalani was notorious for demanding censoring films. There was even a petition to sack Nihalani from the board.