India: Signs of growing weather in film censorship

4 February 2014

A filmmaker who has been constantly censored is now being awarded by the government. And the Central Board of Film Certification has indicated it wants to move away from the concept of censorship to that of certification. Two pieces of news from the Indian film scene which indicate a positive change.

Anand Patwardhan
Anand Patwardhan

Almost all of the Indian documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s documentary films have been censored by the government. Now he is honoured with the prestigious V Shantaram Lifetime Achievement Award at the a government-sponsored Mumbai International Film Festival 2014, held in Mumbay between 3 and 9 February 2014.

Anand Patwardhan had to clear his films after his protracted battle for them in courts. ‘Bombay: Our City’ was shown on television after a four-year court case, while ‘Father Son and the Holy War’ (1995), which was declared in 2004 as one of 50 most memorable international documentaries of all time by DOX, Europe’s leading documentary film magazine, was finally shown on Doordarshan without any cuts only after a 11-year battle, which went all the way to the country’s apex court.

The Central Board for Film refused to certify his next, ‘War and Peace’ (2002) and wanted as many as 21 cuts. When Patwardhan moved court, the film was banned for over a year. Though the courts ruled in his favour, Doordarshan again played spoilsport till the courts pushed for its screening.

Patwardhan said he hopes the award from the government changes this.

“I am not talking of only my work. Why should anyone who raises questions about grass-roots issues face censorship?” he asked.

» See on

Censors: from censorship to certification

The Central Board of Film Certification in India wants to move away from the concept of censorship to that of certification – to give a film its appropriate certificate rather than suggest cuts.

Chairperson Leela Samson from the Central Board of Film Certification had a meeting on the topic with officials of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in Delhi. The meeting did not decide on a time frame for addressing the recommendations of the Board. The chairperson’s term ends in a few months.

» See on
Censor board meeting results in suggestions but no commitment
CBFC and chairperson Leela Samson met with I&B ministry officials for more progressive attitude towards certifying films

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