Divya Kaushik (BOMBAY TIMES; August 13, 2017)

Vani Tripathi Tikoo, who has been a CBFC member since 2015, has always opined that the process of film certification needs a revamp and that the Board should stop taking a high moral ground and refrain from interfering with creative work. “We, the members of the Board, think that we are the guardians of morality in the country. We take ourselves too seriously ... we have no business taking creative decisions for any creative work,“ Vani, the former national secretary of BJP, had said earlier this year.

On the recent revamp of the Board and Prasoon Joshi being appointed as the new chairperson of the CBFC, Vani says, “I have always said that cinema is not just a creative issue, it is a reflection of our society. Prasoon is a brilliant lyricist, he is a fantastic writer and as an advertising man he knows how society thinks, so it is a wonderful decision. People who are related to content today, people who are serving actors, directors and producers, will know what the audience wants today and they understand the mindset of the people. Having creative minds on the Board also means that there is a lot of creative responsibility. A lot of cumulative effort goes into creating cinema and I hope and am confident that the same cumulativeness will prevail in the newly-constituted Board."

Talking about the Board's decisions in the last two years under Pahlaj Nihalani's leadership, Vani says, “This is 2017 and films being made today reflect what people are doing and thinking and we should be in tune with the times when we certify those films. We are also living in the digital era, we consume content on our palms, so being stuck and saying, 'Achcha, now you cut this, this word can't be used', is bizarre. So many mishaps happened. We were not just becoming unpopular, but also undemocratic. We almost looked like an undemocratic body. I kept saying that we are a certification body, we have no business to censor films. The word censor is the wrong term, it is perceptively wrong. We are the Central Board of Film Certification, we should just see what influence a particular film has on underage audience or an adult audience, period!“

She hopes that the newly-constituted Board will also look at the recommendations by the Shyam Benegal Committee, which was set up last year to draft rules and regulations for film certification. “I am hopeful that the ministry and the newly-constituted Board will look at the hard work that the Benegal Committee did and it will look at extending the horizons of ratings, which is very much required today. Between a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old, a lot of things change in our country today. I think the ratings will become self-explanatory as to how content should be consumed,“ she concludes.

Waman Kendre, director of National School of Drama, who is already a member of a number of advisory councils of theatre and film institutes, has also been appointed as a member of the Board. Kendre told us that he has not received any official communication yet and got to know about it from newspapers. “I got a call from the I&B minister Smriti Irani a few days back and she asked me if I would like to accept the proposal of joining the Censor Board and I accepted it. At that time, I had no clue about other members and I have not received any official communication yet. Prasoon Joshi is an accomplished lyricist and has a clear vision about cinema and Vidya Balan is a sensitive actress. I believe, together, the young and old members will be able to work for the development of cinema.“

He is currently a member of the Advisory Council of FTII and was a member of the Maharashtra government's censor board for theatre for 10 years. He said that he will bring his experience from these positions to his new role. He said, “What I used to do in Mumbai for theatre, now I will play the same role for films. Cinema bhi abhivyakti (expression) hai. The role of the CBFC is not to issue cuts, it is a positive and liberal role which means working for film development.“

Talking about switching between his current position as NSD head and a CBFC member, he said, “NSD is my priority and will remain most important for me. I will figure out how to divide my time now. As film appreciation is part of the theatre course in NSD, I used to send NSD students to watch films, maybe now I will send them more often.“
- Niharika Lal