"Television is a family-oriented medium and should remain so"

The newest chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, better known as the Censor Board, has designs for television. Anupam Kher, a versatile actor , chairman of the National School of Drama and now head of the Censor Board, plans to bring television in India under censorship rules. The 'growing menace of vulgarity' on television is my first concern, he says.

Kher takes over from 'acting' censor board chief and former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Arvind Trivedi who had chipped in when Vijay Anand resigned in July 2002 under controversial circumstances.

A brilliant actor who has won many accolades for his performances in films like
Saaransh, Karma, Darr, Lamhe, Daddy, Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and Dil amongst many others, Kher made his directorial debut last year with Om Jai Jagadish which unfortunately did not do well at the turnstiles. His recent venture, an autobiographical one man play- Kuch bhi ho sakta hai is running to packed houses.

Vickey Lalwani caught up with him at Swati Studios in Goregaon (East) where he was shooting for Creative Eye Productions' 3 D Plus film Abra Ka Dabra.



How and why did you decide to take up the post as Censor Board chairman?

Information & Broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad called me and asked if I was interested. I thought for three days and accepted the offer.

Well, I have achieved so much from the film industry. It's time I gave something back. Not just to the film industry, but to society and the country as well.


So, how do you plan to shuttle your time between acting, the NSD and censorship?

I am not required on a day-to-day basis. I won't be looking at all the movies. Basically, I am involved with the policy meetings and formulation of the advisory board. And of course, if and when there is a crisis or a controversy, I will step in.


Considering the limited time period, will it be possible to monitor the movies? You might be faced with a situation where a filmmaker gets away by saying 'it is integral to my script', 'obscenity lies in the eyes of the beholder', etc?

You have a very valid point. And that's exactly what we will be considering while formulating the advisory board. We will select people from different walks of life, to ensure the smooth running of the board. The new members will be briefed well.

We should be revising the Cinematograph Act. It was last revised in 1991. We need to classify the films into U, U/A and A categories. Plus, I even want cinema theatres to come under the new Cinematograph Act. We should be drafting a policy, which will bring cinema halls under its purview. Most cinema halls are allowing kids in for films which have an 'A' certificate, thereby defeating the entire purpose of certification. There is a dire need of policing at the theatres. Else we might have to release certain films in only a selected group of cinema halls that take pains to ensure that no under-18 guy or girl is sent in. The entire system needs to be revamped.


Is just regulating the cinema halls your main concern?

I don't know why, but most of us have this 'chalta hai' and 'jaane do' mentality, but it's time that someone rose, objected and did something concrete to eliminate the growing vulgarity on both, the big and small screens. My immediate concern is television.


"If people see a porn film being aired, they should get up and inform the police"


What makes you say that?

In movies, a person buys a ticket and enters the theatre completely aware of what he is likely to watch, whether it's a scary film or a sexy item number. So, he is responsible for the consequences.

On television, you are fed so many things which you don't want to see. Consider a situation where a child is surfing the channels. What happens when one of the vulgar music videos are flashed before him? Doesn't he get transfixed? Isn't that a question for concern?

Have you seen some of the music videos? Atrocious. I understand that the new generation wants racy stuff, but that does not imply that one misuses the freedom of expression. Don't the makers of these videos have any responsibility towards society? Young minds are very impressionable. I have interacted with children on the show Say Na Something to Anupam Uncle (Sab TV) and I understand their psyche. Television is a family-oriented medium and should remain so.

People in metros may be liberal both in terms of thought and system, these videos therefore might have an adverse effect on them. But consider a young girl from Muzzafarnagar seeing such stuff. The effect is going to be embarassing.


You have decided police television. Are you going to do something about the adult films screened by some channels and cable operators?

Of course. But I need people's support to do that. Why have I taken this job? If I don't take up this job, I am refusing to be a responsible citizen of India. If people see a porn film being aired, they should get up and inform the police. They should form a mohalla committee and inform some mahila mandals. Mahila mandals have effectively campaigned against vulgarity and nudity on many occasions.


What about television serials?

I am equally concerned about serials. Why are so many people sleeping around? They are sleeping with their brother-in-law and sister-in-law on the screen! It stinks. We all want to earn money, but at what cost?


And what about surrogate advertising of liquor on television?

I believe the issues that we discussed earlier are of far more vital importance.


So what about the flashy film promos?

This is again a valid point. The promos need to be toned down. There are a lot of sexual overtones in most of the promos. I have spoken about this to the I & B minister. In fact, we had a long discussion on this.


Anything else, sir?

Our homes may have Italian marble and German upholstery, but there is always a small temple, a Gita or a Quran or a Bible in our rooms. Modernisation should not be allowed to rob our culture and values.


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