Not welcome, disappointing, unfortunate, wrong, arbitrary, restrictive, a sad day for cinema … is how the latest move by the government on discontinuation of Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) was met with. Many a films — Joker, Lipstick Under My Burkha, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, Haraamkhor, Kaalakandi, which were not cleared or faced objections by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), over a period got relief in the appellate tribunal. The new move implies that filmmakers would have to now knock the doors of the High Court for any grievance.
“It’s certainly not welcome,” says director Manoj Agrawal, explaining, “As filmmakers, if any issue arises with CBFC, this tribunal was the way to go. Within a day or two of reaching out, there would be screening and whatever be the issues, it would be cleared. How could it be the same with the High Court?” “There is little time between completion of a film and censor certificate, say two to four weeks maximum; taking a date in High Court would be a big task given the time-frame that we work within,” adds this director of Waah! Tera Kya Kehna, Hadh Kar Di Aapne sequel and Pardesi Babu, who is currently busy with the sequel of Hadh Kar Di Aapne.
Producer of Marathi film Drishant, Tanmay Telang, agrees, “I don’t think it should have been discontinued, as this body was there to address the problems of filmmakers if they had to challenge the CBFC certification. As a filmmaker, I find this move a bit restrictive. It may take longer for filmmakers to get clarification from the High Court.”
The decision met with an uproar on social media. Many a filmmakers took to Twitter to show their displeasure and disbelief. “What the hell?! The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal has been abolished?! How does this happen overnight? Did anyone see this coming? #CBFC #FCAT,” tweeted Jai Mehta, who co-directed the hit series Scam 1992 with father Hansal Mehta. “Do the High Courts have a lot of time to address film certification grievances? How many film producers will have the means to approach the courts,” questioned Hansal Mehta, calling the move arbitrary and restrictive.
Human rights activist and film-producer Sunitha Krishnan tweeted, “Really sad and disappointed that #FCAT has been abolished. Had an opportunity to access this mechanism when our feature film #Raktham was subjected to #CBFC objections. The unbiased, neutral and patient hearing was such a strengthening component.”
Filmmaker and trade analyst Girish Johar hoped for a system for the entertainment industry and not the courts, “With #FCAT dissolved, maybe a larger body may come up, setup by the govt, which will not only address issue… (sic).”
Labelling it unfortunate and wrong, poet, filmmaker Pritish Nandy wrote “Not having a tribunal to appeal to limits a film maker’s options: Modi govt’s move to dissolve film certification tribunal could increase censorship…”
Vishal Bhardwaj’s tweet, “Such a sad day for cinema…,” garnered many reactions from within the film industry. “You seem super-smart, so you already know this – no film will have anything to say anymore coz no one wants to go to court (sic),” replied Ritesh Batra, director of the much-feted film The Lunchbox.