Sharmila Tagore served as the chairperson of the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification), the film-certification body of India, for seven years, from 2004 to 2011. During her tenure, the veteran actor actively worked towards expanding FCAT (Film Certification Appellate Tribunal) and enhancing its functions and the values it stood for. Yesterday, the sudden abolition of the film body evoked a sense of disappointment among many members of the film fraternity including Tagore.
She explains, “I don’t know the rationale behind this step but it concerns the film producers most certainly. Even if they come together now and make an application and appeal to the government, they can work it out but the problem is that no one wants to come together.”
Sharing her support for the body, she says, “In my opinion, FCAT served a very good purpose because it was a recourse for the producers to go to another source to moderate the CBFC’s point of view. FCAT was an enabling body and a bridge between the producers on one hand and the civil society on the other.”
Describing the role of the legal body headed by a retired judge, Tagore says, “When I joined CBFC, there was already an FCAT in place. It was a body where if producers had a difference of opinion with CBFC and were not happy with CBFC’s decisions of giving cuts or A-certificates, they could always go to FCAT and sort out their differences. Sometimes, FCAT went against us and sometimes, they upheld our views. So, FCAT had the final say.”
Tagore firmly states that FCAT was a “kosher and useful” body and she would have never abolished it. In her words, “During my tenure, I wanted to expand its mandate by referring to all the PILs that were initiated all over the country against films so that they could come under the mandate of FCAT considering it was a film body. The only film that we couldn’t give a certificate to and couldn’t go to FCAT with was Black Friday because the Bombay blast was sub judice at that time. So, Anurag Kashyap had to wait for the longest time.”
So, how would the film industry function without the FCAT? “It will be a hassle for a producer to go to the court because it is very expensive and it often leads to a lot of delay. And if a film isn’t released on time, it may get dated and cause other problems including actors’ careers getting ruined for inordinate reasons and the audience losing their interest in the project,” the Kashmir Ki Kali (1964) actor signs off.