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Mr Censor gets U/A* certificate ‘He doesn’t watch movies on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays’

December 20, 2018 05:37 AM


Mr Censor gets U/A* certificate
‘He doesn’t watch movies on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays’
Big budget films have been certified out of turn, say filmmakers; regional censor officer Sreenivasappa says he is solely going by CBFC guidelines
| S Shyam Prasad

Here’s a role reversal if you every saw one. Kannada filmmakers are cutting into the Regional Censor Officer DN Sreenivasappa, for what they see is favouritism for big budget films. Filmmakers are alleging that Sreenivasappa is indulging in favouritism by allowing big budget films to jump the queue and obtain certification from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). Recent big-budget films like The Villain, KGF, Kurukshetra, and Kavacha were certified even though there were other films ahead of them, waiting for certification. In the latest controversy that Sreenivasappa finds himself, a complaint has also been filed against him by H Pramod, a RTI activist. Pramod has complained to the CBFC’s public grievance officer in Mumbai that Sreenivasappa misbehaved and shouted at him when he sought to file a RTI application on December 10. Pramod had sought to know the list of films which had applied for certification with the CBFC and the sequence in which they were watched by the officers.

“I sought information under the RTI Act. As per Section 4(1-a) the list of films received for certification and their status should be made available by the Regional Office suo-moto. When I asked for it, they did not know what Section 4(1-a) and Section 4(1-b) were. After much haggling, I was given an acknowledgement for my application,” Pramod told Mirror.

In his complaint, Pramod has stated that films like Victory 2, The Villain, Bhairava Geetha, KGF and Kavacha which had a big stars cast, were given preferential treatment. Besides this, guidelines for watching films for certification were not followed, he alleged. Muniratna Naidu’s Kurukshetra which was certified on Tuesday (December 18) faces the same allegation of favouritism. The allegation was echoed by the president of the Kannada Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC), Krishne Gowda, who says that 80 producers are awaiting certification for their films. He told Mirror, “Watching selective films out of turn is not our only complaint. The officer demands films to be submitted only in ECP format. Why not Blu-Ray or any other format? There can be no reason why certain formats are preferred over others. There is also the demand to screen films in particular theatres, which are costly. Why should we not suspect a nexus between those theatre owners and the censor officers? Why don’t they watch the film in Renukamba or Chamundeshwari theatres? Why is big budget the only criteria for giving certificates early? A film which applied for a certificate in September is still in the queue but big budget films that applied last week have got certification. He does not watch films on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. He comes to office only after 11 am.”

Gowda pointed out to the case of the film, The Villain, which the film’s director Prem claimed had obtained an ‘A’ certificate. But the film got a U/A certificate subsequently without going to the Revising Committee.

Karnataka Film Chamber of Commerce (KFCC) vice-president Umesh Banakar said that he has heard complaints. “Last year, the Censor office watched a large number of films in December after our request. Many filmmakers want certification to be completed before December as they need to apply for awards and subsidies. There has always been some discretion watching films out of turn. It is not just big budget films. Some films would have announced release dates. They seek permission of others who are ahead in the queue and get their films certified,” he said.

Banakar said that all the problem is because the number of films made has increased manifold. “CBFC has to appoint at least two more ROs in Bengaluru. That is the only solution I see.”

Sreenivasappa told Mirror, “I am doing my duty under the CBFC guidelines. There are certain provisions which give me power to watch films (out of turn). But I have not watched any film within two weeks. Is there no difference between films made with Rs 50-100 crore and Rs 20 lakh. KGF is releasing in five languages all over India. . They have commercial considerations, theatre set up etc to take care of. The rules give me the power to watch those films early.”

The censor officer said KFCC functionaries themselves call him requesting to watch some particular films early. “But I never go by recommendations. I take my own decisions as per law. Krishne Gowda and the other person had filed similar RTI applications earlier. When they misuse RTI, the commission will itself fine them.

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