Babumoshai Bandookbaaz: Filmmakers take united stand against 'sanskaari' CBFC's 48 cuts
A number of filmmakers from the Indian Film and Television Directors' Association (IFTDA) came together to take a united stand against the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) suggestions of 48 cuts in Kushan Nandy's action thriller Babumoshai Bandookbaaz.
The lead actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Bidita Bag joined filmmakers, including Satish Kaushik, Alankrita Shrivastava, Anubhav Sinha, Abhishek Chaubey, Rahul Dholakia and Madhu Mantena, in a press conference to voice their concerns for the growing intolerance among the CBFC members, particularly in its chairman Pahlaj Nihalani.
Sources from Firstpost report that the producers of the film alleged that Nihalani threatened them that if they take the film to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FACT), he will ensure that the film never gets released.
Kiran Shyam, co-producer of the film, spelled out the matter, "After the screening of the film, we came to know that there are 48 cuts, because kids also go and watch the film. But we have got an 'A' certificate. Luckily, we decided not to go to the Revising Committee and go to the tribunal directly because Nihalani threatened us that if we go to the revising committee he would add more cuts."
Siddiqui commented on the stifling of freedom of expression at the event. "The situation is such that I have to count my words, there is no creative freedom. These words and language are important, the local flavour is important for character and story growth As an actor I think if the film has local flavour, the film will become global My character is not polished, how can I not use abusive language," he said, referring to the CBFC cuts pertaining to the abuses used by his character in the film.
Bidita joined her co-star Siddiqui in pointing out the CBFC's dictatorial ways, "I am missing my grandparents a lot today, they used to tell me to have this, don't have this, eat this etc. The CBFC is acting like grandparents. Seventy per cent Indians are adults, why are we told what to do and what not to do? People can watch porn for freely on the internet, but people are told what to do when they spend money. Films are a slice of life, in real life also, we make love so why can't people show all that on screen?"
"The CBFC needs to grow up, become more global in nature CBFC is not a part of the society anymore, they are too judgemental. We used to make films for money. Now the young filmmakers want to make films because they want to tell a story," she added.
"The CBFC wants us not to make different kind of films. They want us to make films they favour," said Sudhir Mishra.
Alankrita, whose film Lipstick Under My Burkha was initially denied certification, echoed the same concern. "I feel censorship is not required. We are from a free and democratic country. We need to get rid of censorship. We will not be able to tell stories. I completely stand with this team. We have had a fight for Udta Punjab, Lipstick Under My Burkha and now this. The problem never ends."
"Cinematograph Act was made in 1952. It is very vague, the country was also growing then. I am depressed that this act will not be placed on the table of the House as they don't find it important. They are trying to create an atmosphere filled with threat from experimenting. We want the Shyam Benegal committee report to be taken into consideration," added Anubhav Sinha.
Abhishek Chaubey, whose film Udta Punjab was targeted by the CBFC on multiple accounts last year, said, "I have also had the same experience. The CBFC office created an environment of threat, and they are regressive. Our films are being judged by people who force their personal liking. It is not just how they think, but also how they behave with us. We filmmakers are not here to ruin the society, so why are we treated like this?"
Rahul Dholakia added, suggesting a political backing in the way the CBFC functions, "This problem is bigger than the censor board. There are so many problems against the chairman but he is still there, so he is definitely following someone's orders. How are you supposed to make film and conduct commerce in a place like this?"
Madhu Mantena, co-producer of Udta Punjab, also spoke her heart out on the issue. "We invest and borrow so much to make a film. We made a film with Phantom and Balaji, we could afford to fight for our film, not everybody can do it! We need people more cinema literate on the board."
"I have had this experience when I have stood in front of the CBFC guys. Today's filmmakers want to be fearless. Today's filmmakers won't make regressive films, their films are more global and reflect everyday life. So what's the problem with CBFC," said Satish Kaushik.