In an effort to safeguard artistic freedom in India, Congress MP, Shashi Tharoor, introduce d the Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2018
to reduce the pre-censorship powers of the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC).
Tharoor commented that the CBFC should be a certification body and not a moral policing body. He wrote on social media:
I introduced my Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2018, to remove the outdated provisions which hamper the free flow of free speech, especially artistic freedom. The protection of artistic freedom is essential for the development of our culture and
It's [The CBFC's] censorship powers (& the Govt's power to revise its decisions as to whether a film should be screened or not) reflect a regressive and paternalistic outlook which is out of date in the 21st century. The existing
guidelines for certification are broad and vague, allowing the CBFC to pass absurd orders such as muting individual words of dialogue, like the term 'cow' in a documentary on Amartya Sen. My Bill introduces comprehensive guidelines for gradation
in film certification. My Bill also removes the discretionary powers of the State to ban films. The State should only resort to the power of suspension of films as the last resort in order to maintain public order. We should not be held hostage
by vigilante groups & self-appointed 'moral police'.
The bill seeks to completely remove the State's power to ban a film, which he says should be considered as a last resort. During the time of Padmaavat's release, states claimed that Section 6 of the Cinematograph Act empowers them to stop the
release of any film that risks public order.
Amongst the key changes are additional film certificates:
U -- film suitable for all persons, regardless of age, and is often family friendly;
U/A 12+ -- film suitable for persons above twelve years of age or for a person under the age of twelve with parental guidance;
U/A 15+ -- film suitable for persons (adolescents) above fifteen years or for a person under the age of fifteen with parental guidance
A -- film suitable for public exhibition, but restricted to adults;
C (A with Caution) -- film restricted for adults with the specific purpose of cautioning them that it has more than a reasonable amount of content such as violence, sex, nudity, drugs and other related contents;
S -- film restricted to viewership by members of a profession or any class of persons, having regard to the nature, content and theme of the film
Detailed guidelines are included in the bill for each category, here are the rules foa an adults only A rating:
Discrimination -- While there may be discriminatory themes and languages in the film, the film as a whole shall not endorse or glorify discriminatory language or behavour ;
Psychotropic Substances, Liquor, Smoking, Tobacco -- Imbibing of these elements may be shows, but the work as a whole shall not promote or encourage misuse of the same. The misuse of easily accessible and highly dangerous substances (for
example, aerosols or solvents) is not acceptable;
Imitable behaviour -- Dangerous behaviour (for example, committing suicide or inflicting self-harm) shall not be shown in detail that could be copied by others . Context, realism and setting shall determine the acceptability of depiction of
easily accessible weapons;
Language -- Very strong language, including abuse and vulgar words is permitted;
Nudity --There may be nudity, even in a sexual context, but without explicit detail ;
Sex-- Sexual activity may be portrayed but without strong detail . References to sexual behaviour is permitted, but very strong reference can only be justified in context . Works whose primary purpose is sexual arousal or stimulation is not
Fear, Threat & Horror--There may be strong threat and horror. A sustained focus on sadistic or sexual threat is not acceptable;
Violence--Strong violence is permitted, but explicit gory images are not acceptable . Strong sadistic violence is not acceptable, there may be detailed verbal references to sexual violence but the depiction of sexual violence must be discreet
and justified by context.
The proposal is introduced with plenty of fancy words about the CBFC being classifiers not censors, but the bill includes plenty of reasons to continue censoring and banning films anyway:
Films under this [top A with Caution] category shall not qualify for certification in the event of the following--
( 1 ) Where the material is in breach of criminal law, or has been created though the commission of a criminal offence;
( 2 ) Where material or treatment appears to the Board to risk harm to individuals;
For example, the detailed portrayal of violent or dangerous acts, or of illegal use of psychotropic substances, which may cause of public harm or morals. Other examples may include portrayals of sadistic or sexual violence that make this
violence looking appealing; reinforce the suggestion that victims enjoy sexual violence; or films that invite viewer complicity in sexual violence or other harmful violent activities;
( 3 ) Where the work is pornographic in nature and or compromises explicit sexual activity or dialogue that is non-contextual in nature. However, any sexually explicit material for educational purposes shall be allowed;
( 4 ) Where the work involves sadistic or sexual violence with children;
( 5 ) Where the work, including its dialogues, are likely to encourage an interest in sexually abusive activity which may include adults role- playing as non-adults.
Mission Impossible: Fallout is a 2018 USA action adventure thriller by Christopher McQuarrie.
Starring Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill and Ving Rhames.
Ethan Hunt and his IMF team, along with some familiar allies, race against time after a mission gone wrong.
India's Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has cut out overt references to Kashmir in Mission: Impossible - Fallout .
It was previously reported that director Christopher McQuarrie had set the film's final act in Kashmir because he wanted to make a more politically complex film.
However, the version of the film released in Indian theatres has no mention of Kashmir - there are noticeable cuts in the final act of the film, and a section of the credits mentioning the banned location has been deleted.
The film still contains a few oblique references such as Ilsa Faust makes a passing reference to the Nubra Valley and the Siachen glacier, but never is the word Kashmir mentioned.
The film makers tried to shoot the scenes in Kashmir but were refused permission. The scenes ended up being filmed in New Zealand. Ethan Hunt and his crew arrive in Kashmir to stop a dastardly plan to unleash a nuclear attack on the region, which
connects three of the most populous countries in the world, and therefore likely to claim the most casualties.
Indian politicians have been admiring the effectiveness of the recent US censorship law, FOSTA that bans anything
adult on the internet by making websites responsible for anything that facilitates sex trafficking. As websites can't distinguish trafficking from adult consensual sex work then the internet companies are forced to ban anything to do with sex work
and even dating.
A new session of the Indian Parliament kicked off on 18 July with the introduction of the Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill .
There are a few problematic provisions in the proposed legislation, which may severely impact freedom of expression. For instance, Section 36 of the Bill, which aims to prescribe punishment for the promotion or facilitation of trafficking,
proposes a minimum three-year sentence for producing, publishing, broadcasting or distributing any type of material that promotes trafficking or exploitation. An attentive reading of the provision, however, reveals that it has been worded loosely
enough to risk criminalizing many unrelated activities as well.
The phrase any propaganda material that promotes trafficking of person or exploitation of a trafficked person in any manner has wide amplitude, and many unconnected or even well-intentioned actions can be construed to come within its ambit as the
Bill does not define what constitutes promotion. For example, in moralistic eyes, any sexual content online could be seen as promoting prurient interests, and thus also promoting trafficking.
In July 2015, the government asked internet service providers (ISPs) to block 857 pornography websites sites on grounds of outraging morality and decency, but later rescinded the order after widespread criticism. If historical record is any
indication, Section 36 in this present Bill will legitimize such acts of censorship.
Section 39 proposes an even weaker standard for criminal acts by proposing that any act of publishing or advertising which may lead to the trafficking of a person shall be punished (emphasis added) with imprisonment for 5-10 years. In effect, the
provision mandates punishment for vaguely defined actions that may not actually be connected to the trafficking of a person at all.
Another by-product of passing the proposed legislation would be a dramatic shift in India's landscape of intermediary liability laws, i.e., rules which determine the liability of platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and messaging services like
Whatsapp and Signal for hosting or distributing unlawful content.
Provisions in the Bill that criminalize the publication and distribution of content, ignore that unlike the physical world, modern electronic communication requires third-party intermediaries to store and distribute content. This wording can
implicate neutral communication pipeways, such as ISPs, online platforms, mobile messengers, which currently cannot even know of the presence of such material unless they surveil all their users. Under the proposed legislation, the fact that human
traffickers used Whatsapp to communicate about their activities could be used to hold the messaging service criminally liable.
Sikh leaders in India have threatened to protest over the title of a biopic because it uses the name Kaur.
Sunny Leone is a former porn star turned Bollywood actress who plays herself in web series Karenjit Kaur: The Untold Story of Sunny Leone . Kaur - Leone's real name - is used by Sikh women as a surname or middle name and symbolises gender
The web series depicts her life and premiered on 16 July for Zee5, a streaming platform in India.
In a letter to Subhash Chandra, the chairman of Essel Group which owns Zee5, Indian politician Manjinder Singh Sirsa called for the show to be pulled from the network or have the name Kaur removed from the title. But Chandra responded simply by
explaining that her name can't be changed.
Other Sikh groups and leaders have expressed similar sentiments and have threatened to protest outside the network's offices if their demands aren't met.