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22 Things We Know About The Indian Censor Board

The Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has been at the center of several news stories of late. Here's what we actually know about the people who wield the power to shape what art and culture India does and does not consume.

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1. The Indian censor board has 23 members, all of whom are appointed by the central government.

MTV India / Via buzzfeed.com

The board is part of the government's Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

2. There are seven women on the 23 person board.

BuzzFeed

3. This board has the power to withhold the public release of any films which:

BuzzFeed

4. The board can also demand modifications as a condition to releasing content. For instance:

^ This is a censor board certificate demanding that singer Mihir Joshi censor the word "Bombay" out of his music video for the song "Sorry."
Mihir Joshi / Via mid-day.com

^ This is a censor board certificate demanding that singer Mihir Joshi censor the word "Bombay" out of his music video for the song "Sorry."

5. In all other cases, the board simply decides what the appropriate audience for a film is.

That's what these certificates are for! ^
Via telugunow.com

That's what these certificates are for! ^

6. Defying the CBFC's instructions can get filmmakers imprisoned for up to 3 years, or fined ₹1,00,000, or both.

All India Bakchod / Via buzzfeed.com

7. Earlier this year, nearly half the existing board resigned, including its chairperson at the time, Leela Samson.

Some complaints levied in their resignation letter were that the government was appointing advisors without consulting the board, and was failing to allocate adequate funds for the board to function. Samson's resignation came after MSG: Messenger Of God, a film that she and her board rejected, was cleared for public release despite their decision. She alleged that the board was corrupt and susceptible to coercion.
Via Twitter: @ibnlive

Some complaints levied in their resignation letter were that the government was appointing advisors without consulting the board, and was failing to allocate adequate funds for the board to function. Samson's resignation came after MSG: Messenger Of God, a film that she and her board rejected, was cleared for public release despite their decision. She alleged that the board was corrupt and susceptible to coercion.

8. And they were swiftly replaced. On Jan. 19, the government appointed producer Pahlaj Nihalani as chairperson, along with nine new board members.

Strdel / Getty Images

The Indian Express recently interviewed Nihalani and the nine new members in a series called "Know Your Censors." Here's what we learned about the censors appointed by the current government:

9. Five out of the nine new members have ties to the BJP.

R.S. Rathore, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, has gone on record to say that censors are required to be loyal not to their parties but to the government.
BJP

R.S. Rathore, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, has gone on record to say that censors are required to be loyal not to their parties but to the government.

10. And three of the nine members have ties to the Hindu nationalist party Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, popularly known as the RSS.

AFP / Stringer

11. Three out of the nine said that a film should "have a message."

The rest maintained that a film's only duty to its audience is to be entertaining.
Vinod Chopra Productions

The rest maintained that a film's only duty to its audience is to be entertaining.

12. When asked which films should be completely censored, 4 members were in agreement that all films deserve a release, but within limitations...

Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan / Via quotespakora.com

13. Though one member named Grand Masti as a film that shouldn't have been released, and another said Haider should've undergone "major cuts."

14. The majority of members agree that "item numbers" should be allowed in films...

15. Though the board is reportedly considering a ban on showing "item numbers" on TV before 11 PM.

Via bollypop.in

When asked for his opinion on item numbers, Tamil actor and playwright and CBFC member S. Ve Shekhar told Indian Express, "Some are really disturbing. We are considering a ban on item numbers with explicit content from TV till 11 p.m."

(Fun fact: Narendra Modi is reportedly Shekhar's godfather. "[Narendra Modi] has offered me this post and I will do justice to it," Shekhar told Indian Express, "I am loyal, but only to Modi.")

16. When asked for her stance on item numbers, BJP member and CBFC member Jeevitha told Indian Express:

BuzzFeed

17. All nine new members agree that violence, especially gore, should be toned down in films.

Reliance Entertainment

And that they ensure it comes with an "Adult" rating.

18. Six of the nine new members have backgrounds in the cinema and theatre industries.

Indranil Mukherjee / Getty Images

19. A majority of the new members believe Hollywood films should be held to the same standards of censorship as domestic cinema.

"We cannot let international filmmakers guide Indian culture," said Pahlaj Nihalani.
Warner Bros.

"We cannot let international filmmakers guide Indian culture," said Pahlaj Nihalani.

20. Four of the new members expressed that films should not be allowed to hurt or disgrace religious sentiments.

Rajkumar Hirani Films

21. Censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani believes that the board's role is to "make sure no sentiments are hurt."

Via teen.com

22. And finally, the censor board chief believes a "good film" is "one that can be viewed with the family."

Dharma Productions