Mumbai: Social values and economics must go hand in hand. Cinema has become a tool for organizations to foist their political agenda on the nation. There is need for a cultural renaissance, for if an entertainer is denied freedom of expression, creative freedom is lost. Most creative artistes have empathy and are socially responsible.
These views were expressed by Sharmila Tagore, chairperson, Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC); film makers Shyam Benegal and Mahesh Bhatt and Amit Khanna, chairman, FICCI Convergence Committee & president, Reliance Entertainment, at the Ficci-Frames 2008 session on ‘Are media & entertainment socially responsible?’
Sharmila Tagore, admitted that CBFC does censor a bit whenever necessary to safeguard public interest. “But we are a transparent body. Under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, you can write to us and find out exactly why the Board has acted in a particular manner while certifying a film for public screening.”
While the CBFC’s intent is not to sit in judgement on the creativity of a film maker, the Board needs to look at the impact a film will make on the Indian public which is multi-lingual, pluralistic with different sensibilities of metro, semi-urban and rural audiences, she added.
The sentiment that echoed through the discussions was that self regulation was still an issue and while the primary objective of cinema is to entertain there has to be a handle on costs for social values and economics must be in sync with one another.
Shyam Benegal said censorship today has taken a political colour as even after a film is certified by the Censor Board, it is being blocked by organizations in various states on ridiculous grounds. He said much of the onus for the flare up against films lies with the TV networks whose cameramen make a few protestors seem like many.
Amit Khanna expressed anguish at the sheer tenacity with which political leadership has hung on to controls over the media. He alluded to different laws on investment to regulation in telecom, broadcasting and TV that has made the situation totally chaotic. The media, he said, has a great responsibility as it will ultimately change the way we are governed and who we are governed by.
Zohra Chatterji, joint secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said the government was trying to put together a content code for the media and broadcasting industry even as the media needs to exercise social responsibility and do research on customer preferences and not be guided by just TRP ratings.