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Here's Bollywood, uncensored: The Times of India

New Delhi, July 16: There's a bumper crop of flesh, sex and violence in Bollywood, pointing to a new and progressive censor board.

New Delhi, July 16: There's a bumper crop of flesh, sex and violence in Bollywood, pointing to a new and progressive censor board.
Goaded by the satellite invasion, the country's censor board seems to have slowly though reluctantly ushered in new uncensored era.

Trade analysts say the board is heading for a welcome change in its approach towards film censorship. Subtly achieved or blatantly revealing titillations have become intrinsic to scripts, heralding the change.

From Raaz, Ek Chhoti Si Love Story, Jism, Andaaz and Khwahish to the recently released Hawaa and yet-to-be-released Oops, censorship norms have undergone a sea change.

Not so long ago, filmmakers used to go through the list of censor norms before planning the subjects of their films lest they got stuck in censorship problems later.

The recent movie to pass through the board unscathed was ace writer Anurag Kashyap's directorial debut Paanch. The film that was stuck with the censoring body for its supposedly gory content was passed without a single cut three years after it went on the floors.

The board had objected to its bloody scenes and expletive-laden dialogues. The film's producer, Tutu Sharma, says: "The board chief, Vijay Anand, agreed with our view. So, not a single scene has been cut. Only a word has been beeped out."

Basu, who shot to overnight recognition as the scriptwriter of Ram Gopal Varma's take on the underworld, Satya, is also credited for another powerful script Shool. Paanch stars newcomer Tejaswini Kolhapure and Kay Kay of Bhopal Express fame and is slated for an August release.

The film has been short-listed for the Hamburg and Italian film festivals.

But for every Paanch there is an Aakrosh and a War And Peace. The Censor Board banned Aakrosh, which depicted the plight of survivors of the Gujarat violence, even though it has been acclaimed in many festivals.

The film has now been selected for the Indo-British Digital Film Festival to be held in New Delhi this month.

Similarly Anand Patwardhan, whose film War And Peace was the winner of the Film And Video Award at the Mumbai International Film Festival, waged a war against the censors, as he was dissatisfied with the cuts recommended.

Defending the board, filmmaker Vijay Anand says at any given point the board is crowded with censor applications. According to the rules, a producer is supposed to apply his film roughly 28 working days in advance.

The time limit in relation to certification of films after an application under Rule 21 is roughly 28 days.

What usually happens, however, is that the filmmaker first confirms the release date and then puts pressure on the board for immediate viewing. With smaller films frequently traveling to national and international festivals, there is the added pressure of deadlines.

"Some filmmakers run to the media at the first disapproval from the censors' side. This helps them to simply create publicity for their movie.

We have many committees. If the first committee finds anything wrong, the second committee sees it... and so on. There is no need to press the panic button without rationalising what is right and what is wrong," Anand remarks.

In his tenure as the board chairman Anand has accomplished much. Besides revamping the Cinematograph Act 1952, a six-member government approved committee was set up to revaluate the guidelines.

Self-censorship amongst filmmakers and the streamlining of censor procedures were some of the changes he recommended. After a long time, representatives from the film industry, rather than bureaucrats, are determining what's best for their medium.

There is a school of thought -- from the likes of G P Sippy and Mahesh Bhatt -- that censorship should be done away with.

"If censorship is done away with, the law of the jungle will come to roost in Indian cinema. What if some anti-nationals take over and make a movie on India being split into different states?" says Anand.