Why censor only films on TV?

National Award winning film director Onir Dhar’s hullabaloo over his film I Am not being telecast on Doordarshan has once again raised the issue of censorship on television.

The director who has a U/A certificate for I Am won this year’s Best Hindi Film National Award. It deals with conte­m­porary issues of homosexuality, child abuse, sperm donation and displacement of Kashmiri pandits through four separate stories.

The director says that despite cutting some seven minutes of ‘objectionable scenes’ from the film, DD has refused to screen it under any slot as it is U/A. “My problem is not about just I Am. The film industry over all is questioning why are the satellite channels allowed to telecast U/A movies but Doordarshan needs a ‘U’ certificate for films,” says Onir.

“I think it is an irony that we do not have late night slots for U/A films whether they have got a National Award or not. I think DD can provide a much-needed platform and support system for the Indie new wave films which are struggling to survive in theatres,” he adds.
DD’s official spokesperson Yashhodhara Tripathy, “National Award winning films are screened every Sunday at 11 am. There is no slot for scr­e­e­n­ing U/A films but that can be arranged for the 11 pm slot if the director applies for it.”

Surprisingly DD says that Onir has not applied for telecast of I Am. “Films with U/A certificate can be screened but the director has to apply for that first. Mr Onir has not applied for that and is creating this hullabaloo,” she claims.

Not long ago, Vidya Balan starrer The Dirty Picture’s telecast was stopped apparently
because its content was not suitable for family audience despite a U/A certificate from Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

“I am not aware of the inside story of what happened with The Dirty Picture. It is just
that we need night slots wh­ere adult films can be sho­wn without being butchered.  DD and satellite channels are very important for that,” says Onir, who has also directed My Brother Nikhil.

Onir has also written to the Ministry of I&B twice, calling for a change in Doordarshan’s policy and questioning why anything can be shown on satellite channels in serials and music videos while films are subjected to random censorship and rusted policies.

“Adult content can be shown late night. But at the end of the day what all can be censored – internet, news, ho­a­­rdings? That is not democracy. I think the rating system is a better way to deal with TV and movies. At present there is no censorship on TV. Why is it applicable only for films on TV?” asks Onir.

On the contrary, Aanand Rai, director of Tanu Weds Manu, says considering the cases of both I Am and The Dirty Picture, it appears that the need of the hour is clear cut and unanimous guidelines with regard to content that can be shown on television.

“I might sound conservative but I believe in censorship. Some directors prefer self-censorship but I disagree,” he says. Whether self-censorship or imposed, need of the hour is to allow all voices to make themselves heard. Isn’t that what democracy is all about?

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