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Govt plans age censor seals for films

New Delhi, July 3: The changing face of Indian films with their increasingly bold themes has made the government rethink its U/A certification and try for age-specific censorship, keeping children in mind.

The information and broadcasting ministry and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) want to introduce two age categories — of 12-plus and 15-plus — instead of the U/A category so that parents have some idea on whether a film should be watched by their children at all or not.

A censor board official said: “U/A does not mean the film is okay for children to watch. It means that parents should use their discretion. A clear indication of which age is suitable for a film is the best way to avoid any confusion.”

For both 12-plus and 15-plus-certified films, children will have to be accompanied by adults to a theatre and may need to show age proof, if asked. How the censor board and the ministry arrived at the 15-plus age category, not 14 or 16-plus, is not clear though.

Under current rules, a child of 12 years or older can watch U/A films with adults in a theatre.

Sources in the I&B ministry said it had become imperative for the censor board to ensure clarity on which films could be allowed for unrestricted viewing by children.

The censor board and the ministry, sources said, had meetings to finalise a mechanism to deal with U/A-certified films not suitable for children, even if they watched them with their parents.

The changes will be brought through an amendment to the Cinematograph Act, likely to be tabled in the monsoon session of Parliament.

Officials said the step to review the U/A certification became necessary after an uproar over a TV channel slotting The Dirty Picture in the afternoon, when children are likely to watch television.

The Vidya Balan-starrer is an adult film, but with cuts it was made U/A for TV viewing. The timing for the film was rescheduled to night after the I&B ministry intervened. U/A-certified films cannot be telecast before 10pm.

“The problem is that while the CBFC ratings are meant for theatre screenings, these are also used to judge whether movies can be shown on TV. So there is a need to rate the films that have been given U/A certificates differently,” a censor board official said.

“A theatre can restrict the entry of children according to the certificate but the same isn’t true for TV. Hence, the need to review the mechanism of certification,” said a senior official at the ministry.

The official also said the new set of guidelines would include a provision for all trailers uploaded online to get a censor certificate.