Nihalani-led CBFC must behave like certifying body and not a censor board


Dr Kouser Fathima

The Udta Punjab controversy has raised a very important question regarding the role of the CBFC ( Central Board of Film Certification ).

As the name suggests the board is authorised to certify a film and not censor it . The Board after watching the movie has to only certify if it will be given a U or A certificate but many a times the board oversteps its boundaries and starts acting like a censor board, deciding on behalf of the movie goers.

Time and again under, political pressure or patronage, the CBFC has behaved like a dictator trying to clip the wings of film makers. Ironically, many B grade movies with raunchy numbers and cheap dialogues get passed but movies which address social and contemporary issues are targetted.

We often complain about Bollywood not making  enough movies with substance, but on the same time the Board decides to censor movies which deal with unpleasant realities of our sicety.


Drugs, violence, abuse and rapes are a reality in our society and ignoring them will only make things worse. The film industry needs to address these issues, create awareness and contribute to the society. Art and literature have always played crucial role in developing the consistence of our society.

How long will we continue to make romantic sagas, family dramas of NRIs and mindless comedies in the name of entertainment?

The country has a huge youth population, which is tech savvy and exposed to cinema from worldwide.

They need no lecturing from the censor board on the difference between good, serious cinema and cheap entertainment films.

Some of the movies showcased on international platforms are so real, dark and hard hitting but are often appreciated and honoured. Imagine if the Indian censor board was entrusted with a responsibility to certify these movies. Many wouldn’t have made it to the theatres.

The board needs to rethink on its role and stop curbing freedom in the name of censorship. A digitally empowered nation can decide on its own what it wants to watch. If every movie is seen through the prism of politics, no movie would be made addressing real issues .

Imagine a movie like FASHION. If someone had objected on the grounds that the movie depicted fashion industry in bad taste, what impact would it have had without the title and scenes showing the challenges faced by models.

Many more movies would have lost its essence if they are censored as mindlessly as being suggested by Nihalani. The board ‘s objections to the movie ‘Udta Punjab ‘ range from absurd to funny. First they have objections with the title , now the title is approved but it wants the word Punjab deleted from the rest of the movie.

So should the maker give an imaginary name to the place? It has issues with the name of the dog in the movie and wants the name Jackie Chan to go. Why and for what no one knows? The board has ordered 89 cuts in the movie leaving the makers angry and disappointed. Producer, Anurag Kashyap, was so enraged that he compared the censor board to North Korea’s dictator.

The industry, though little late in the day, has now come out to support the movie and it’s makers.

Hope the board reads the signs and begin to function as a certifying board and not censor board. The need for a non political board with prominent film makers is the right solution in the right direction .

Views expressed here are the author’s pwn