The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Watchdogs wake up to Mallika's Murder

New Delhi, April 26: Information and broadcasting officials are trying to draw up guidelines that will help the censor board decide how much sex and violence is too much on screen.

Although the amount of violence and sex allowed in a film is subjective, depending on how it is depicted as also on the background of the board members, the ministry hopes the guidelines will make it easier for the censors to determine whether a film should be rated 'Adult' or 'Universal'.

'We are in the process of fine-tuning the existing guidelines, after which there will be a Powerpoint presentation for the minister. Only after he okays it, will the draft be presented to the censor board chief, filmmakers, critics and eminent personalities for their comments and suggestions.

'We expect many changes in the draft before it is finally acceptable to everyone,' a senior official said.

'All this will take time and will be open for discussion and comment from the public.'

In future, the theme of a film will also count, officials said.

This follows complaints from the public against the 'U' certification granted to Mahesh Bhatt's Murder, starring Mallika Sherawat, Ashmit Patel and Emraan Hashmi, which revolved around adultery. People felt films with such subjects should not get away with a 'Universal' rating, an official said.

So the censor board will now be told to also consider the theme while rating a film.

But is it possible to generalise what is 'Adult' and what is for 'Universal' viewing'

'It can be tough but we are trying to help members of the board. We are also studying the Australian model, though so far we have not yet considered what we can incorporate from the Office of Film and Literature Classification, which is a statutory body within the federal attorney-general's office.'

Officials admit it is difficult to lay down ground rules on films and much depends on how an issue is handled, but there has been growing criticism by parents and educationists about the 'vulgarity' shown on screen.

The usual argument is: 'This is not Indian culture.' So the officials will perhaps have to first debate what is Indian culture and whether the erotic carvings in Khajuraho are a part of it or not.

Officials are considering making it mandatory for the censor board members to issue a 'speaking order' that will explain the grounds on which a scene has to be deleted or why a film is being given an 'Adult' rating when the producers claim it should get 'Universal' certification.

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