Chennai: In a simple and practical move, the Central government, based on the overwhelming advice of all State governments, today announced that all movies would by default stand banned till they were formally cleared by religious groups, caste organisations or, in general, any body or association with the requisite numbers to create nuisance that has the potential to be noticed.
The Central government, however, made it clear that it was not, and nor it will ever be, against freedom of expression.
‘It is wrong to construe this as a blanket ban. In fact filmmakers are at liberty to use blanket at all times,’ the Central government said in a formal communiqué. ‘Filmmakers can continue to make whatever films they want to. But just as it is their prerogative to make the kind of films they want to, it is equally our prerogative, as a duly elected government in a democracy, to ban films we want to,’ the communiqué from the government said an added ‘if both of us can respect our respective freedoms there would not be any problem or confusion at all’.
Highly placed sources in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry also said that the government would be tweaking the rules of the Censor Board so that the religious and caste groups would first see the films and decide whether they were harmless enough for the Censor Board to view them and decide whether they were appropriate for public screening.
A movie can be cleared for the Censor Board to view only if it carried a valid NOC (No Objection Certificate) from caste/religious groups. ‘A movie, by default, is deemed banned without this NOC,’ the communiqué asserted.
Such an arrangement, it pointed out, will prevent films from running into trouble at the last moment. ‘Now thanks to the new arrangement, filmmakers will have no jitters at the eleventh hour. Film can run into trouble right at the start itself’.
On the other hand, filmmakers can proactively sit with all caste and religious associations right at the conception stage itself and create a story that would not be deemed offensive by anybody.
To make matters easy for all concerned, filmmakers can also choose to make no film at all so that no one has any room for complaint whatsoever.
‘We only hope our sincerity comes through the fact that we are ready for any kind of compromise at all circumstances,’ the Centre said.
Meanwhile, the Centre has also released a handy guide detailing some dos and don’ts for filmmakers so that there won’t be any problem or complaint. One of them pertains to the depiction of terrorists in films.
The guide points out: 1. Terrorism has no religion 2. So it follows, that the character playing the terrorist should not have a name that will give away his/her religious identity.3. So it follows even more logically, simply use mathematical terms.
Practical example 1: ‘The blindfold is removed from the young man, he peered into the room and spotted the Jihadi group chief, a well known figure from the world of terror, the Planck’s Constant’.
Example 2:‘As the news of the train-laden with RDX bomb exploding to smithereens arrived, the two masterminds of the blast, the Cartesian coordinates, let out an evil grin over a job well done’.
The Centre’s move today comes in the wake of the trouble that Kamal Haasan’s film Vishwaroopam has run into just a day ahead of its scheduled release.
The film after being cleared by the Censors now stands ‘banned for 15 days’, as a certain religious group feels that the film has a great potential to trigger violence out of it. ‘We are for peace only. But the film shows us as terrorists and depicts us in a bad light.
‘How can we allow a work of fiction that is so totally fictitious?’
‘There is communal harmony in the society because Vishwaroopam has not been released so far. In such a circumstance, why should we lose it by releasing the film?’ the group asked.
(Disclaimer: Name and suspicion. The other side of the story)