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Thursday, 18 August 2016

Bengali film in 6-month battle with CBFC

While the Pahlaj Nihalani-led CBFC (Central Board for Film Certification) has been under the scanner for quite some time now, it was Udta Punjab which really "painted and dented" the inimitable ways of the board to come in between the audiences and good cinema. Even as the debate now shifts to Haraamkhor, a Bengali film fought a 6-month-long battle with the CBFC in Kolkata to again show that the board is defunct and their members unfit to review films for certification. 

Shaheb Bibi Golaam, directed by Pratim D. Gupta and starring Swastika Mukherjee (Detective Byomkesh Bakshy) in the lead with music by Anupam Roy (Piku), had applied for a certificate in mid-December 2015 and after as many as 5 screenings (4 in CBFC alone), the film got the certificate on June 16, 2016 with just a small cut and 6 muted words thanks to FCAT (Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal). But the harassment the makers went through goes on to show  that the problem lies not only with Mr Nihalani, but the board and its system and rules.

Here are the salient points of what actually happened:

1st Examining Committee Screening invalidated because there was one lady member short. Still they had the screening only to tell the producer and director to come back another day.

2nd Examining Committee Screening: One lady member found the character of Bibi (Swastika Mukherjee) - a domestically abused housewife choosing to become an escort - morally degrading, suggesting that the film can only get a certificate if we drop her story and changing Shaheb Bibi Golaam to Shaheb Golaam. The same section went completely uncut at the FCAT (Film Certification Appellate Tribunal) screening in Delhi.

Revision Committee Screening had a different issue altogether asking the filmmaker to delete the rape sequence which features different actors altogether. When pointed out that rapes are happening everyday and cinema is supposed to be mirroring society, Chairperson BJP MP George Baker said "I understand that, you understand that, but will Montu on the streets understand that?" 

Finally when the film was resubmitted to CBFC for them to check whether we followed the FCAT recommendations - 6 words muted, rape scene shortened - they sent it back saying "Smoking causes cancer" card is missing. Funnily, no one smokes in the film!

Shaheb Bibi Golaam now releases nationally (including Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore) on 26th August, more than 7 months after January 22, its original planned release date. The official poster of the film is attached. We can also share video snippets of the film.

If you wish to share this CBFC horror story in your esteemed medium, you can use the above information and also speak to the filmmaker in more detail.