Whether or not we need a Censor Board is debatable. However, the fact is that a lot of industry veterans are still skeptical of taking up the job of leading this government job. Clearly, all the controversies surrounding the Board are the main reason for the skepticism. Therefore, someone must ask whether this body that functions directly or indirectly under the watch of the government is required at all.
Remember, the body is named as Central Board of Film Certification at present. However, not many years ago, it had a Soviet-sounding name – Central Board of Film Censors. Though the name change was inevitable, the functions have remained the same for the most part. Agreed, a lot of refinement has taken place in the recent years, but the body continues to work as a government watchdog for all activities surrounding movies. Also, if at all there is autonomy associated with the Board, then it is at best very thin.
What is sad about Censor Board is that its briefings are not clear and its history is least encouraging. Another sad part of this government-backed body is that it has not supported the works of some of the finest Indian filmmakers over the years, either because the subject matter provided by them was over sensitive or their treatment was found to be provocative. Interestingly, the same body did not have any problem in approving crassest works in the name of universal exhibition. Whether it is their thinking or execution, the Board has remained at least a generation behind. For many, the existence of Censor Board does not matter because he or she can always drag director of a movie to the court after finding something wrong with it. This could happen even after the movie got the approvals from the Board!
There are many in the film industry and elsewhere that believe the existence of Censor Board is unnecessary. Their point of view is that the existence of the Board is like an insult to democracy as the government appoints a few handful people to decide what people should be seeing and what not. It has to be understood by one and all that films, like other forms of media, is freely available to everyone. Therefore, people have all the rights to be as free as a word in a newspaper.
All said against the Censor Board, one can’t deny the fact that films, like any other form of content, have to follow the basic laws that have been established in the land. One has to understand that both filmmakers and distributors can be sued and subjected to judicial injunctions if they defamed someone, incited violence of any kind, or show obscene content. However, the question remains – why should any content be subjected to pre-censorship?