Unspooling the truth of the reel

CENSORED VERSION

Just to make the board members see the trial of the film costs Rs 40,000 to Rs 1,00,000. 


It is a shame to pay such an amount for this purpose,” says the complainant whose action has made headlines and has resulted in the arrest of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)’s CEO Rajesh Kumar.

He was allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs70,000 through an agent for issuing certificate for a regional film from Chattisgarh, Mor Dauki Ke Bihav. 

Speaking to Metrolife, the complainant (who requested anonymity) revealed facts that are shocking and demand attention of every filmbuff to be aware of how much it takes for a producer or director to release a film. 

“It takes about Rs 55,000 to release a small film. For a ten-minute film, a thousand rupee demand draft is charged by CBFC and likewise for a two-hour film, a Rs 11,000 DD is required. But it takes much more than this. There are agents who help a producer release a film in limited budget and, then there are others who charge extra without a reason. 

Rajesh Kumar was supporting these others,” says the complainant informing how disappointed he felt about the state of corruption.    

He informs that the new rules issued during the tenure of Rajesh Kumar “mentioned that the day one applies for a certificate one will have to appear for a trial the next day. But the certificate will be signed after seven days of the trial”.

 Allegedly, the interim period was utilised by the accused to demand money for certificate. “There have been instances when producers have got the promos of their films passed on the same day they submitted it,” adds the complainant.

While the source mentions that big producers never had to go through a difficult ordeal, it was the small fish that got trapped most of the time. 

Metrolife spoke to filmmakers about their experience and many narrated tales that support the complainant’s accusations. Take for instance Harish Sharma whose debut film 2 Nights in Soul Valley got delayed for release by two years only because he refused to grant favours.

 “Yeh sab sewa ka khel hai,” says Sharma who even after having paid Rs 15-20,000 for certification had to remain patient. “When my film was in the pipeline for certification in 2012, I was informed that about 200 small films were pending due to similar reasons.” 

To add to this, is the issue of ‘A’ and U/A’ certification. Says Sharma, “Just because the theme of my film was ‘supernatural’, the censor board gave it an ‘A’ certificate and rudely told me, ‘Chahe aapki film me koi bhoot ho ya na ho, supernatural ko ‘A’ hi milta hai’.” 

A similar incident is shared by Kishor Belekar, director of Marathi film Yeda: “The censor board people told me, ‘Whenever Ashutosh Rana makes an appearance in your film, we as adults get scared then the children are bound to feel afraid’. They thus gave my film an A-certificate even though it doesn’t have any vulgar scene or bloodshed.” 

To top it all, Belekar informs that he found it really cheap when “one of the committee members, after having seen the film, got the food packed for her home. The lunch for the members who come to see the film is paid for by the producer. These officers who decide the fate of crores of rupees and criticise our films have the audacity to stoop to such level!” 

These regional and independent filmmakers suffered mainly because they refused to bribe. “As the release date nears, we filmmakers get desperate to get the certificate,” says Ashvin Kumar, director of National Award winning films Inshallah, football and Inshallah, Kashmir. 

“The censor board kept returning the trailer of my film The Forest with an ‘A’ certificate, without a reason. Now, when I look back, I realise the attempt was to demand money. I am not surprised at the arrest of the present Censor Board CEO, because after all, what is his qualification to be in that position?” he asks.

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