India's federal ministry of information and broadcasting has started a period of consultation for its draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which proposes to give more censorship power to the government. This bill would empower the federal government to order a film which had already received certification to be "re-examined" or dismissed.
The ministry said the amendments to the existing law will grant "revisionary powers to the government on account of violation of Section 5B(1) of the Act”.
Section 5B (1) of the Act states that "a film shall not be certified for public exhibition if the film or any part of it is against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of court."
Films in India are certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, which works under the Indian government.
The draft bill also proposes to make piracy a punishable offence and prohibits unauthorised recording. The bill will introduce a new age-based rating system apart from the usual U (unrestricted), U/A (parental guidance for children below the age of 12) and A (restricted to adults).
“This will mean that filmmakers are powerless at the hands of the state and more vulnerable to threats, vandalism and intimidation of mob censors,” the letter stated. Prominent members of India's film industry such as Anurag Kashyap, Vishal Bhardwaj, Nandita Das, Hansal Mehta, Shabana Azmi, Kamal Haasan have strongly voiced their worries against the proposed bill.
I urge the Indian film fraternity and film lovers to oppose this unfair and unreasonable provision by writing an email to firstname.lastname@example.org— Vishal Bhardwaj (@VishalBhardwaj) June 25, 2021
and sharing their opinion before the deadline of 2 July. @producers_guild @DirectorsIFTDA @fwicemum
Over the past few years, films such as "Paadmavaat", "Minnal Murali", "Udta Punjab" have faced opposition from right-wing politicians before their release. During the shooting, sets were vandalised and death threats sent to directors and actors.