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Debate on censorship marks day 2 of MAMI

MUMBAI: On day 2 of the MAMI, the Film Business Centre opened to cater to the business of cinema. The scenario saw global people networking film business deals with their Indian counterparts. They were seen making deals with those of India not forgetting to ask those at its reception to fix appointment with a list they provided.


But the day would be remembered for the debate on censorship in which all forms of it came under fire. The debate saw filmmakers like Mukesh Bhatt, Sudhir Mishra, Vinod Pandey and a young filmmaker Piyush Jha sharing the dias with ex-Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Regional Office (RO) Vinayak Azad for a livid discussion.


Also present was Pankaja Thakur, the current CBFC regional officer. Both Thakur and Azad defended the government’s position effectively. Both of them welcomed Bhatt’s suggestion to have a producer’s guild member in the CFBC screening committees.


The debate that began on a sedate note, warned up midway. Emotions flared up as Vinod Pande criticised the film industry of being closeted in their own censorship issues and not fighting for larger problems.


Pande was hinting at the Mumbai University ban on Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey. Even though moderator Sudhir Mishra tried hard to divert the topic, many in the audience took his cue and debated on the extra-constitutional form of censorship practiced by political parties.


Without naming the author or the political party, Pande named ‘Such A Long Journey‘ by Rohinton Mistry and urged the industry to join the fight against censorship in toto rather than limiting it to their own world. It may be remembered that Mistry‘s book was dropped from the English syllabus of Mumbai University after the Shiv Sena raised a furore.


Pande’s conclusion, "You are talking about freedom in this country, sadly it does not exist," had many in the audience supporting.


On his part Azad reminded the audience that CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) was not a censor but merely a certification body. When someone asked him why the censorship policy in the country was so bad, he said: "CBFC is not a policy-making body, we only implement policy. It is beyond our purview to question policy."


The new CBFC Regional Officer, Pankaja Thakur, though not part of the panel, informed the audience that she was at the meet to gauge the mood of the industry at the request of higher ups in the ministry.

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