By Subhash K Jha
Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani, who has worked towards devising a system of online censor certification, says no matter what he does, people feel he's on the "banned-wagon".
Excerpts from the interview:
So, is the censor board going digital?
That's right. We're going online, any time. All the spadework is done. We're just waiting for the green signal from the Information and Broadcasting Ministry which should come any time now. We're going online in the next week or maximum two weeks.
Considering how hard you worked to get this going, are you feeling triumphant?
Am I going to be allowed to feel anything good? No matter what I do, my friends and well-wishers jump on the bandwagon to pull me down. They think I am constantly on the 'banned-wagon'.
You sound persecuted?
It's the way things are. Anyway, I will have to do what I've to do. We've worked very hard towards online certification. Now producers would not have to submit DVDs of their films to the CBFC. Everything, including their films, will be submitted for certification online.
Is this online certification applicable only to Hindi films?
No. It is applicable in all languages. From now on, every film in every language - Hindi or regional - would be certifiable online. Also, filmmakers are now restricted from advertising their films' release dates before they get a censor certificate.
But release dates are announced months before release, sometimes even before the film is shot?
Filmmakers would be free to choose their dates and even announce it in the early stages of their film's development. But once the release approaches, you can't put out advertisements with release dates, until you have the censor certificate in your hands.
This sounds like a tough call to take?
It can't be helped. How can producers be confident of meeting their release dates until they have the censor certificates in their hands? And if they are still announcing their film when they have no censor certificates, then they're fooling the public.
You seem to be marching ahead regardless of the flak and scorn?
I don't pay attention to the people who criticise me. I do my work honestly. The CBFC office now moves to a new location in Mumbai. With this change in address, comes a big change in the certification policy. No more paper work. No more producers queuing up at our office to get their films certified on priority. From now on, it's strictly first-come-first-serve. And it's all on the internet. No ambiguity anywhere.