Has Rakesh Kumar tainted the sanctity of the CBFC

Cinema that we all see on the screen, that is so full of glitz-glamour, dance-drama, romance and action is actually a labor of love where hundreds of people who work as a unit to create a magical dream on celluloid. For that many a times a producer mortgages his house. A stuntman risks his life for a simple 20 second action scene. An actor to get into the mood of the scene starves themselves to get the just feeling on screen. All this to just get the story right, the film right. For all the makers of cinema, film making is a very emotional and a spiritual process. And it's the same with its audiences. But before a film is being exhibited in front of its audience a mandatory process of censoring the film has to be done. The industry and the makers have always respected the Censor Board. It has at times had its share of issues and disagreements but it has always managed to find an amicable midway where the values of both are upheld. But in the recent past, the ruckus that has been raked surrounding the board is a first of a kind.

The chair of the CBFC CEO is a very revered chair and always been held in esteem by the film industry. Rakesh Kumar has managed to do what his predecessors for the last 6 decades could not do. He has put a dent and tainted the sanctity of this chair by his utter sacrilegious act of corruption. Rakesh Kumar shall always be remembered as a man who pioneered the trend of corruption in an Industry which had never witnessed any scams or corruption even in an era of burgeoning scams. This man created such a fear psychosis amongst makers of the films, that they would bend backwards to get a nod from this man. His hand twisting act was so well orchestrated that it would be difficult for any lay man to gauge his intentions. In the name of good for the society this man would demand ridiculous NOC's from the film-makers, ask for research material for ad films. To the extent in one of the hear-says I came to know that he had demanded for a proof that the fairness cream showed in the ad actually works. His never before unheard of requests were creating a sense of nightmare amongst the industry. There were hush-hush night terrors amongst the producers and directors to get a censor clearance for their films from the table of Rakesh Kumar. And this man was exactly taking advantage of this very desperation. If the film was a potential blockbuster, the bizzareness of his righteousness grew.

I had sincere reservations and doubts about the credibility of this man from day one. In fact I had expressed my concerns in an interview given to a leading newspaper publication and also written a letter to Rakesh Kumar himself on reading an interview of his where he had proclaimed that he was going to rule the film industry through the reigns of his chair with an iron hand. His interview reeked of arrogance. It almost seemed like he meant that 'I am here to set all the wrongs into right'. His sanctity act almost seemed fake. Making me wonder about the sanity of the chair.

The problem with the appointment of a CEO of CBFC is, that it is done like any other bureaucratic chair without giving a thought that it is not a file pushers job. It is a creative job, which only a person who identifies with, can do it competently. Any IAS officer can't be placed on the chair to give censor clearance certificates to films. It's almost like an actor who has performed as a doctor in a film is given a scalpel and told to perform a real life surgery. This man's past experience was that he was from railways. How did the Govt. of India think that a man who deals with trains would be the right person to give a clearance of films made by the best cinematic brains of this country? And the strangest thing in the whole Rakesh Kumar drama is that Leela Samson, the now chief of CBFC, has risen from her slumber and is making tall proclamations that she was aware of this man's inefficiency and hand twisting technique keeping herself diplomatically clear away from his corruption charges. If she was so enlightened the why the hell did she allow all this to transpire? She was his boss and she has been made so, for a reason. But the lady chose to shut her eyes to all the wrongs while today she gets up with her "I knew all along" quotes. If you knew then why didn't you do anything? It's a mystery that even the concerned person would be unable to solve.

Cinema as an art needs love and nurturing. We as an industry have always abided by the Boards rule because the orders that came from there, came with the larger intention of good of the society and the film per say. But this man with his limited stay in the Censor Board has created such suspicious imprints in the minds of the makers that next time if some CEO raises an objection; everyone will think 'maybe it is time to grease the palm.'

Any higher official or honorary posts in CBFC should be from the film industry. Giving the post to people like Rakesh Kumar is actually like humiliating the sensibilities of this industry that has all along only given to the government in the form of tax and entertainment. Never has the Govt. reciprocated the gesture in the same vein.

This industry needs a person with a hard spine for a stand and creative mind to act as a functionary between the audience and its cinema. A person who can usher cinema into the halls for its audience with the right balance of creative freedom and cultural sanity.

Article written by staff at Bollywood Hungama. Read more

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