The ban on Kamal Haasan’s film Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu by the State Government opened a can of worms. Can anyone hold a film-maker to ransom even after his film has been cleared by the Censor Board? Read on...
The ban on Kamal Haasan’s film Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu by the State government has pushed the spotlight on the Censor Board, and questions its authority as it plays an active part in the release of a film. Vishwaroopam finally released amidst heavy police security following a three-week delay, but not after having incurred around ` 90 crore loss. Though the controversy raged majorly in the South, those in Hindi film industry did not keep quiet. They debated the randomness of an act that curbed creativity, while some like Salman Khan vociferously came out in support of the veteran film-maker and actor by holding screenings of Vishwaroop, the Hindi version of the film.
Most when asked said that when a film has been certified by the Censor Board, no one has the authority to stop the film’s release. “Once the Censor Board passes a movie that should be litmus test for the film’s certificate. The Censor Board has, in fact, decreed that after that no one can stop the release of a film. And I do firmly believe in this policy. Kamal Haasan has every right to feel that injustice has been done to him on that count as Censor Board should be the final authority to decide whether a film has to be screened in the theatres or not,” opines Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO, Disney UTV, having faced a similar situation earlier when Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) supporters tried to halt the screening of UTV Motion Pictures’ films like Wake Up Sid for using the word ‘Bombay’ instead of ‘Mumbai’. UTV also faced another instance of arm-twisting with Jodhaa Akbar when controversy raged over Jodha being the daughter-in-law of Akbar, and not his wife. Kapur also cites the case of Prakash Jha’s Aarakshan where the Supreme Court decreed that once a film has been passed by the Censor Board, the state authorities are supposed to be taking the onus of ensuring that the film gets a proper release.
Anjum Rajabali, Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) official spokesperson seconded Kapur’s views. “The CBFC is a specialised body with the statutory authority to examine films, to see if they fall within the