Despite 59 cuts, Sony asked to push Dirty Picture airing to after 11pm

23 Apr,2012

By Kshama Rao


Until late on Saturday, Multi Screen Media channels Sony Entertainment Ltd and Sony Max showed several promos of the award winning Vidya Balan starrer, The Dirty Picture, which was to be screened on the channel on Sunday at noon and 8 pm.


However, at the appointed time, the channel was running a repeat telecast of its crime shows. Minutes stretched and soon a scroller ran across the channel citing “unavoidable reasons” for not showing the film.


The unavoidable reasons, as we learnt later, was a directive issued to the channel by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for deferring the telecast of the film. The ministry was in consultation with the Central Board of Film Certification which had given the film a U/A after “59 cuts”.


Pankaja Thakur, CEO, CBFC said: “We didn’t ask Sony to not show the film. We only advised them to ensure there was Parental Guidance. We, at CBFC, have nothing to do with the telecast timings, it’s the prerogative of the broadcasters. Our job ends with certifying the film. As it is made out to be, it’s not an overnight decision the ministry or CBFC took. We have been in talks with the channel for a long time now regarding the timings, we were not happy that they were showing the film at 12 and 8 pm. We had already received complaints and four days back, a case was filed against the film’s telecast and the Nagpur Bench of the High Court passed an order asking the I &B Ministry to look into the matter.”


“According to the Programme Code of the I & B Ministry, a U/A film means you need to have parental guidance, otherwise where is the difference between a U and a U/A film? All that the channel needed to ensure was tell its viewers that the film needed parental supervision. But I guess the decision of just doing away with the telecast was taken by them,” she added.


To the channel’s credit, they had begun showing the promos, accompanied by the U/A symbol. But we guess, the common man is not aware enough to understand its implications. “Yes, it’s true, most viewers are not aware enough about what U, A or U/A means.”


Ms Thakur added that the television industry runs on “self-regulation: “They follow certain Standards and Practices which their body of broadcasters have framed. There have been so many cases where despite a U/A certificate, channels have aired films without ensuring there is parental guidance. Films like Murder 2, Ragini MMS, Haunted, which are not conducive viewing for children have been shown on TV. Is that ethical? It’s high time channels and the film industry stop thinking about the losses they will incur or the money they will make. The common man has to be adequately represented in the bodies governing censorship. A dialogue has begun in that direction. And by the way, 59 cuts amounted to just six minutes. It’s time the film and TV industry stopped thinking only about the losses incurred.”

Tanuj Garg, CEO, Balaji Motion Pictures, the producer of the film, messaged: “It is unfortunate that even after a valid U/A certificate from the CBFC and all the cuts being in place, the telecast was stopped. We have not seen this happen to any other film with this certificate and are pained by the victimization given that this is among the most celebrated and loved films in recent times. I’m not sure how Vidya (Balan), Niharika (Khan for best costumes) and Vikram (Gaikwad for best make up) would feel about collecting their National Awards!”


A leading industry person who has brokered many deals for channels and film-makers said: “Why should the government pre-empt as it did in this case? Once you give a certificate, let the audience decide if they want to watch it or switch off their TV sets. The minute these films don’t generated adequate ratings, the channels would stop buying these films! What happened with The Dirty Picture is unfair.”


An adult film on a General Entertainment Channel also means losses in sponsorship deals and viewership. An industry insider said: “Sony had already caused problems with the consummation scene in Bade Achche Lagte Hain, they got a rap from viewers as the show ratings have dipped badly in the recent weeks and now with this, they were pushing the envelope too far. As it is, all channels have been forced to run a scroller that says viewers who find any objectionable content, could alert the Broadcasting Content Complaint Council or IBF.”


Meanwhile, the Twitterati is abuzz with voices of protest coming from the film industry. Filmmaker Karan Johar tweeted: “A national-award winning film cannot have a national telecast? This is not an irony but simple and plain hypocrisy! If the censorship is not a final authority, then what is? Complicated and blurred lines defeat the core of democracy.”


Actor-producer-director, Farhan Akhtar tweeted: “Has the telecast of The Dirty Picture actually been stopped? I’ll believe it when I don’t see it…shame!”


Producer-director Kushan Nandy tweeted: “In this country, a minister can watch porn in the Parliament, but won’t allow us to watch a 56-cut censored film at home!”


Meanwhile, the film was sold to Sony by Balaji as part of a bouquet deal for Rs 9 crore…and with sponsorship losses and a dent to its image in the competitive GEC market, Sony would need to do a lot to build a pretty picture.


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