Prasoon Joshi Breaks His Silence In His First Full-Fledged Interview As The Censor Chief

Lets start at the beginning, were  you expecting to be appointed  the chairperson of  the CBFC? What was  your reaction to the new responsibility?

I was on a flight when the announcement was made and was deluged with messages and calls as soon as I landed. From my perspective this responsibility requires a collaborative approach .

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There is widespread speculation as to the changes that are likely to happen in the running of the CBFC. Please shed light on what  ground rules  you would like to  follow.

What can I say about speculations? Of course suggestions  that come from thinking minds can provide insight. As far as frameworks are concerned, as an industry we operate as one and as part of the eco-system so does the CBFC, where there are  current guidelines ,my attempt would be to guide and view the work holistically.

 Your predecessor Pahlaj Nihalani made many unpopular decisions on behalf of the CBFC. Do you see yourself as reversing some of the negative image that the CBFC has acquired lately?

Mr Nihalani is a senior member of the Industry and it would not be fair to comment on his tenure. Also I think the focus should not be on whether a  decision is popular but whether it’s a sound one. Progress cannot be done in isolation.

So what  is your  short-term solution?

CBFC and the film industry need to collaborate so that there is mutual understanding and appreciation of each ones roles and responsibilities.

Producers expect you be ‘liberal’, as they define liberal, meaning they think under your stewardship the CBFCwill provide certification to all  films without cuts. Please clarify.

When one comes with an open mind respectful of varied points of view then any particular definition or tag is not relevant. I fully understand  that creative people don’t like to be made overtly conscious of their work through checks and balances.

But surely every progressive culture needs to restrain itself?

I agree.Most of the time internal checks and balances develop organically in the community.  As far as possible I would like to be guided by that principle.

Is there any self-imposed guideline that you will use as censor chief?

We have taken cognisance of the vulnerable ends of our society .   For when we are interested in creating for people at large we can’t create in absolute suspension and tapered interest and some important aspects are best kept in mind.

It sounds like  a  thankless task?

It’s not  simple  yes but then  Life is about trying to strike a fine balance.

 While the popular  liberal view stipulates that the CBFC only certify films, the I & B guidelines  suggest that scenes and shots that are “objectionable” be pruned. How do you look at this dichotomy between what  should be and what is?

 There are views that  there should only be certification of content  and the decision to  decide whats appropriate or good or inappropriate should be left to the audience. This view I can understand but  we all also know that its a layered and complex  society  we live in with not all having the same information and sensibility filters.  To begin with  we need to ensure that those not in an empowered state or situation to decide, are also taken note of. Say for example children.  It’s about the power of informed choice. And for that to come into complete play its important that there are no gaps in audience awareness and information about the kind of content being presented.we need to work towards any goal with awareness and responsibility from all ends.

As a  liberal right-thinking intellectual mind do  you feel the audience should  be  given the  right to see all films regardless of  the quality of  the  content?

If we are  talking about the quality of content produced  by our cinema,   I genuinely feel we have such a huge talent pool and so much richness of narrative  to draw from  that  we  can leverage the finer aspects not just  for our country or sub-continent but create a deeper more influential impact on  world cinema and global audiences.

 Finally what should producers and  filmmakers expect from you  in your capacity as  the censor chief?

Discussion dialogue and mutual respect for varied points of view.

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