Indian film industry is the largest film producing industry in the world. For the hundreds of films that are produced every year, there is a huge fan base that brings revenue to the industry. From script to music, every single detail in the films is well-crafted to perfection. There is a lot of effort that is put into perspective to create a masterpiece that is called a film. Since filmmakers often leave no stone unturned to make their film a hit by using explicit scenes and dialogues, there is a governing body that provides guidelines for the film to make it suitable for all kinds of audiences to watch. In India, that institution is Central Board of Film Certification, famously known as CBFC.
It is already a well-known fact that CBFC is the primary body that certifies a film for public viewership in India. However, over the time, the CBFC has overreached its duty of certification of films to moral policing and censorship. The ‘censorship’ by CBFC was evidently visible during the release of films like Padmaavat, Udta Punjab and Lipstick Under My Burkha under the chairmanship of Pahlaj Nihalani.
Apparently, there is a huge difference between censorship and certification. Censorship focuses on ‘censoring’ the content to make it viewable to the audience. But in a mature democracy like India, censorship is merely an unwanted element that is intervening and subverting the ‘artistic freedom’. A certain amount of censorship is undoubtedly accepted but it should be in regulation with the importance of the content in the film.
As a matter of fact, certification being a dynamic process is highly likely to change according to the evolution of the Indian society. For certification, the film is viewed by a panel of cinema professionals, and then they certify the film accordingly. While certifying a film, certain cuts are sometimes suggested by the CBFC. In that case, a ‘triangle’ symbol is printed on the film certificate to indicate the ‘cuts’.
There are mainly four types of certificates that CBFC provides:
1. U (Unrestricted Public Exhibition)
Films that are probably family-friendly or contains universal themes such as education, drama, romance, action, sci-fi etc. receive ‘U’ certification by CBFC. Most producers naturally desire ‘U’ certificate for an unrestricted theatrical experience. There can be mild violence scenes or mild sexual scenes which are allowed.
2. U/A (Parental Guidance for children below the age of 12 years)
Evidently, there can be content that contains adult themes in moderation which can be viewed by children but under parental guidance. These movies receive ‘U/A’ certificate. If there is any content that is unsuitable for children under 12, then certain deletions and cuts are suggested by the panel.
3. A (Restricted to adults)
Well, there are movies that contain scenes of explicit nudity, strong violence and abusive languages which are definitely inappropriate for children to watch. Such movies receive ‘A’ certification due to the seriousness of their content. At times, even these films go through the scissors with ‘the extreme’ being cut down from the final copy.
4. S (Restricted to any special class of persons)
Films that receive ‘S’ certification by CBFC are not made for the public exhibition. They are predominantly made for people associated with the content like engineers, doctors and scientists. These professionals have special permission to watch such films.
This information will definitely help you the next time you go to watch a film on the silver screen.