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 ‘U/A’ 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.”
Sheetal Talwar says this is a regression in terms of the interactive mood at the CBFC. “During Mr Pahlaj 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 ur nikal jao (take whatever certification you get, and get out).”
Sheetal Talwar lashes out at the running of the CBFC. “All the filth and dirt, all the corruption that Mr Pahlaj Nihalani had weeded out is back. The middlemen and touts are again back in business.”
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