Creativity in danger due to political agenda: Filmmakers

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Mumbai, Mar 26 (UNI) Even as cinema was becoming a handy tool for sectarian organizations to foist their political agenda on the nation, there was a need to resist against it, eminent speakers from Bollywood opined here today.

Speaking at the ongoing FICCI-FRAMES convention on the business of Indian Entertainment and Media industry, they asserted that if an entertainer was denied freedom of expression, creative freedom would be lost.

Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Chairperson Sharmila Tagore, filmmakers Shyam Benegal and Mahesh Bhatt and Chairman of the FICCI Convergence Committee and President Reliance Entertainment, Amit Khanna, were the panelists at the session on 'Is Media&Entertainment Socially Responsible?' All of them ridiculed the recent move of various state governments to ban films like ''Jodha Akbar'' and ''Nach Baliye'', attempts which was later foiled by the judiciary.

Ms Tagore, however, admitted that CBFC does censor a bit whenever necessary to safeguard public interest.

While the CBFC's intent is not to sit in judgement on the creativity of a filmmaker, the Board needs to look at the impact a film will make on the Indian public which is multi-lingual, pluralistic with different sensibilities of metro, semi-urban and rural audiences, she said.

Shyam Benegal said censorship today has taken a political colour as even after a film is certified by the Censor Board, it is blocked by organizations in various states on ridiculous grounds.

He said much of the onus for the flare up against films lies with the TV networks whose cameramen make a few protesters appear many.

The problem of film certification has now shifted from CBFC to the society outside and while it is the responsibility of the state machinery to ensure law and order, their helplessness in the matter is pathetic, Director Mahesh Bhatt said.

Amit Khanna expressed anguish at the sheer tenacity with which the political leadership has hung on to controls over the media. He alluded to different laws on investment to regulation in telecom, broadcasting and television that has made the situation totally chaotic.

The media, he said, has a great responsibility as it will ultimately change the way we are governed and who we are governed by.

The Union Information and Broadcasting joint secretary Zohra Chatterji said the government was trying to put together a content code for the media and broadcasting industry even as they need to exercise social responsibility and do research on customer preferences and not be guided by just TRP ratings.

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