ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hazy Reflections

The draft Cinematograph Bill 2010 fails to reflect the extensive changes in technology and public attitudes.

For some years now, film-makers in the country, including documentary makers, have been demanding a comprehensive review of the Cinematograph Act of 1952, which will bring it in tune with changes in mass media technology as well as public attitudes towards hitherto taboo issues. The makers of award winning documentaries like War and Peace (on global militarism and nuclear testing) and Final Solutions (on the Godhra riots in Gujarat) had to either depend on the intervention of the courts or sustained public campaigns to be allowed to show their films. In the commercial arena, filmmakers are routinely asked to cut out dialogues or scenes which might affect the tender sensibilities of some religious, regional or politically powerful group. Now, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has come out with the draft Cinematograph Bill 2010. But it is hardly an improvement on the existing act.

In the first half of the 20th century, the hypodermic needle theory was widely accepted in the west to describe the impact of the mass media on the consumer’s mind, especially that of the “vulnerable” young. Later this view was discarded when it was realised that there are too many complex factors determining the extent and intensity of the impact. Also, the omnipresence of television and the internet made the official censorship of cinema an incongruity. In India, the official attitude towards means of mass media has always been strongly coloured by the need to maintain control and the policy of appeasement of any violent demonstration of chauvinistic sentiments. The draft bill does not move away from this situation.

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