Onir’s film about a bunch of people in hetero- and gay relationships in Shab has been denied the right to a television screening.
The shell-shocked producer Sheetal Talwar can’t get over the fact that this denial of the freedom of expression is happening in the new censorial regime. “We had an ‘A’ for theatrical release. This was fine. Shab deals with adult topics.We are all responsible film people. We know children should not watch films with a sexual content. So before we applied for new censor certificate for the home medium we made suitable modifications. To our shock we were told the film cannot be granted a ‘UA’ because of its adult theme .This means we can’t show the film on television. For a small film that did not do well at the box office this is a huge financial blow.”
Fuming with rage, Sheetal reveals how he was open to dialogue to see how Shab could be altered to be suitable for telecast. “But now according to a new policy at the CBFC producers can’t have any dialogue or discussion with censor board panelists after they view a film. This basically means, once you are given a certification you have to take it or appeal to the Tribunal.Waste of time.”
Sheetal says this is a regression in terms of the interactive mood at the CBFC. “During Mr Nihalani’s tenure there was so much give-and-take of ideas between producers and the censor board.Mr Nihalani is a producer. He knows the pressures and dynamics of the business. He understood the pain of the filmmaker.He’d suggest modifications so we could get the desired censor certification. Now we don’t even get to have our say. Jo certificate miley lo aur nikaljao (take whatever certification you get , and get out).”
Talwar lashes out at the running of the CBFC. “All the filth and dirt,all the corruption that Mr Nihalani had weeded out is back. The middlemen and touts are again back in business.”