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Censor and Cannes

Censor and Cannes
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It was a week of controversies involving the CBFC, Cannes Film Festival and theA film fraternityin general Censor Board v/s Small producers A...

It was a week of controversies involving the CBFC, Cannes Film Festival and theA film fraternityin general Censor Board v/s Small producers bhavanaA media friend, Harish Sharma who has been working as a film PR for the past 15 years, told me a tragic tale that is worth repeating. It is a story about how small filmmakers are treated by the censor board and only because they don't have an impressive banner to fight their battles. He said he first thought about writing to the censor board but changed his mind because if they were not reading to hear his plea, why would they waste time in reading his letter.
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Sharma said that some months ago he had approached the censor board to certify his film '2 Nights in Soul Valley' on the subject of paranormal experiences and which falls under the category of Horror. Made under a production budget of 40 lakhs, the film is about supernatural incidents without any bloodshed, ghosts or disfigured images walking aimlessly in the frame. Says Sharma, "My publicity of the film had a tagline that read: A horror film that can be watched with family. We were expecting a 'U' certificate or at least a 'UA' but our film was granted an 'A' certificate on the argument that even though the film had no gory bloodshed, the theme and the treatment of the film specified an adult certificate. We were crestfallen and initially did think about filing a lawsuit but legal processes in India take ages and since we have neither the time nor the resources for the battle, we settled to release the film in Delhi and Punjab. The distributors were not accommodating because there is little audience for adult films and it is impossible for a producer to recover his production cost. We accepted what happened as our fate and moved on until a few weeks later I discovered that Excel Entertainment's 'Talaash' was released with a 'UA' rating. Then a few weeks later 'Ek Thi Daayan' was also released and again with a 'UA' rating. My queries to the censor board are simple for which I expect direct honest answers. Was my film made an exception in rating because I'm a small time producer and don't have big star cast to advocate my case? If Kareena Kapoor and Konkana Sen were ghosts in the above films, how come their stories are relevant for family viewing while mine isn't? Will CBFC always make discriminate on basis of productions when their duty is to review films on merit?" Sharma informs that he has entered his film to the board for TV rights to a film agent with this last hope that his film '2 Nights in Soul Valley' with a 'UA' rating so that so that he can recover some investment via satellite rights. "I'm hoping that they don't ask me for a second screening because every screening for CBFC costs 60K to a lakh and a half which is a lot of money. What I fail to understand is that why has nobody been protesting about such malpractices. It is time for all the small producers to unite and expose all those who torture them in the name of power game. I'm ready and those willing can join the battle."
Cannes v/s Crass
censorCricket was once upon a time was about the game and Cannes Film Festival about cinema. Today cricket has become about business and Cannes besides fashion parade has become about PR machinery. It looks like anybody who is somebody is shopping for his/ her place under the orange sun of Paris. Amitabh Bachchan's Great Gatsby was in the main competitive section and Aishwarya rai along with Sonal Kapoor walked the red carpet for Loreal. Vidya Balan was on the jury and Rajinikanth for his film 'Kochadaiyaan' but the others I'm still figuring out what they were doing. Ameesha Patel said she was there to promote her film 'Shortcut Romeo' and Sherlyn Chopra to promote her film 'Kamasutra 3D' never mind that nobody has ever heard of these films. Patel and Chopra are not going to admit that they were but a minuscule part of Le Marche du Film, that is, the Market section of Cannes where thousands of titles from all over the world find their way. Such a pity that distinction for a festival of such magnitude is not on merit and selection of films and candidates is without artistic or even commercial merit. I guess it is not a priority for them in fact they take pride in the fact that more than 10,000 participants, 4000 films are presented at 1500 screenings and millions of dollars spent. Of course some deserving films got their share of limelight like Amit Kumar's 'Monsoon Shootout' listed as a UK-India-Netherlands co-production, the Special Screening of Zoya Akhtar-Dibakar Banerjee-Karan Johar-Anurag Kashyap's 'Bombay Talkies' and Directors' Fortnight featuring Anurag Kashyap's 'Ugly' is among the 21 international films showcased in this section. Many actors were found shooting from the hip. Malika Sherawat for instance stated in a Variety interview that she is responsible for introducing passion into Hindi cinema via 'Murder' she said it is strain for a progressive person like her to live an inhibited life in India. First and foremost India is not inhibited or regressive as Malika makes it out to be and second, passion existed in Hindi films long before Malika was born so can we request Malika to please think before she opens her mouth particularly when she is on an international platform for she is exposing not just herself but lowering the image of her country. Can we also request the authorities at Cannes to show greater discrimination when inviting candidates from different countries? Let us please be clear if the festival is about cinema or the trappings. This time particularly since India celebrating 100 years was the guest of honour, they could have taken a little effort in hiring the service of an expert to choose invitees and facilitating processes of those deserving to be accredited. Bhawana Somaaya @bhawanasomaaya
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