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Censor board blues for Odia films

- Film-makers await new panel of experts

Bhubaneswar, Aug. 30: The Odia film industry has already had fewer releases this year as compared to the last two years. After issues such as lack of financers and actors getting busy in politics, the latest challenge for film-makers is getting a clearance from the censor board.

The regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification in Cuttack that gives clearance and certification for a film to be screened does not have a panel of experts for more than a month now. This is proving to be a major roadblock for film releases.

With the festive season round the corner, producers and directors wanted to release their films during festivals such as Ganesh Puja, Dussehra and so on. But, many had to be disappointed since the new government at the Centre had dissolved the existing advisory panel.

Without the advisory board, the films cannot get a certification of screening. Hence, even after post-production, many films may miss out on the opportunity to cash in during the festive season.

“The board has nine centres across the country. The centres suited for Odisha film-makers are the ones located in Cuttack and Calcutta. But, both have their advisory panels dissolved by the new government since the board is usually selected to function for around two years. The panel in Cuttack was functioning beyond that time period,” said regional head of the Cuttack centre Akhil Kumar Mishra.

“It is now the decision of the ministry of information and broadcasting, New Delhi, to recommend and put in place new panel members,” he said.

The last panel had about 20 members from various walks of life to view the films first and decide on which scenes could be approved and which could be deleted. The members included names from the literary field such as Gourahari Das, Iti Samanta, actors such as Tripura Mishra, members from the field of music such as Sangita Gosain and several politicians. No one knows for sure when the next panel would be ready at the Cuttack centre.

Film-makers are eagerly waiting for the regional centre of the censor board to start functioning.

“My film Krantidhara is set to be released and the crew has worked extremely hard. We were eager to know how the audience likes the film since so much dedication has gone into its making. But now, we have been waiting for over a month to screen it because of the censor board. Until we get the board’s nod, the film cannot be released,” said director Himanshu Khatua, whose film Kathantara had won a national award.

He also said that though the films could get certification from other centres of the board, it was not easy for the crew to arrange screening for the boards outside the state. “We could apply for certification in the Mumbai or Delhi centres or even the South India-based centres such as Hyderabad. But, they are usually too busy and burdened with Hindi or South Indian language films,” said Khatua.

“We were excited that our film would hit theatres by Ganesh Puja. But now, we have no idea when it will release,” said a crew member of the film Ganja Ladhei in which director Sudhakar Basant will be seen in a full-fledged role of the antagonist.

At least four Odia films are ready to release once they get the censor board’s approval.


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