Did you know that the CBFC has mostly banned movies on the grounds of sexual content or communal tensions?

Censorship of Films/Movies

Last updated on Jun 8, 2022

Censorship is when an authority (such as the government) cuts out or suppresses communication. The official stance of the Government is that it does not censor films, it only certifies them.

For the general public to see films/movies, the Central Board of Film Certification has to certify them. Many films are certified only if they meet certain conditions and the filmmakers make certain changes to the film. This amounts to censoring, generally understood as blocking or hiding content from its intended audience.

The law says that the Board can refuse to certify a film if any part, or the whole goes against the sovereignty of India, or affects its relations with other countries. They can also take action if they think the film:

  • is indecent,
  • against morality, or
  • if it is likely to cause public unrest or defame anyone.

The Central Government also has the power to issue more ‘guidelines’ to help the Board decide how to proceed. You should read them for yourself.

Some of the things the guidelines say are –

  • Films should provide a ‘clean and healthy environment’
  • Anti-social activities, or drinking/drug use can’t be glorified, and
  • There should not be needless violence
  • Films shouldn’t cater to the ‘baser instinct’, or be ‘vulgar’.
  • It should not degrade women and sexual violence against women should be shown ‘to the minimum’
  • Anti-national or communal attitudes can’t be promoted

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Related Resources

Censorship on the Internet

Censorship on the internet can be done either by the Government blocking content is a threat to national security or can disrupt public order or encourage people to commit a crime, or Internet service providers and social media platforms can remove “illegal content”.

Censorship of TV Content

The Government can censor channels or even entire cable operators, block any content which may cause hatred or public unrest, and block content if it violates the code all channels follow.

CBFC Actions

If you want to show a film/movie to the general public in a theatre, you have to apply to the CBFC for a certificate. The Board examines the film, and then takes certain actions.

Showing a Film Without a Certificate

Showing a film without a certificate or changing it after certification and then showing it to the public is punishable in different ways.