Filmmaker-activist Mahesh Bhatt moderated a lively debate on the topic of censorship with Bollywood stalwarts Amit Khanna, Sudhir Mishra, Bhawana Somaaya, Anu Ranjan and Ketan Mehta making their stand at The Third Eye’s program Elevate 2015, the second annual conclave held at The Club, Mumbai, this week.
With a discussion on creating synergies between regulatory bodies and industry leaderships, the industry heavyweights mulled on how the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and other regulatory authorities can look ahead in time and create a vision for creative communities; thus empowering audiences.
Bhatt asked some thought-provoking questions. “Is there a role that the regulators really have to play in the digital age,” he wondered. “Is there a way for content creators to establish a non-confrontational dialogue with the government regulatory bodies?”
Industry doyen Amit Khanna opined, “In the 21st century, given the way technology has allowed us to interact with each other, there is no role for anything called censorship in the audio-visual media.” Producer-activist Anu Ranjan differed, stating, “Though not a hundred percent, there has to be some kind of regulation for sure.”
“The censorship is no longer a possibility in any way in today’s digital age. This is the first time in history that such a thing is possible,” marked director Sudhir Mishra. Another director Ketan Mehta was blunt. “Censorship is corrupt and immoral exercise of power,” he said.
But veteran journalist, author and an ex-member of the CBFC, Bhawana Somaaya pointed out that the Censor Board has a provision where filmmakers have a right to refuse and argue with the objections of the Board in their entirety. She felt that “censorship is being interpreted in a wrong way. It is being misunderstood. There are guidelines for it and they require some modifications.”
The event’s organizer, The Third Eye, is a partnership between the ‘Asian Centre for Entertainment Education’ (ACEE), India, and ‘Hollywood, Health and Society’ (HH&S), Norman Lear Centre, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, USA. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, among others, funds the program.