3 Nov 2010

Political Censorship and Indian Cinematographic Laws

In what promises to be an unprecedented articulation on the role of political censorship on the Indian media and particularly the cinematographic films; Arpan Banerjee, a Calcutta based lawyer in her paper published in Drexel Law Review, has examined the censorship of political films in colonial and contemporary India to provide interesting insights thereon.

The paper entitled Political Censorship and Indian Cinematographic Laws: A Functionalist Liberal Analysis, worded in scholarly rhetoric and quipping prose, argues that "that certain colonial and statist traces in Indian cinematographic laws have enabled political censorship to take place" and pointing out factors to this end, appeals that "Indian cinematographic laws should be remodelled to conform to a more liberal framework that reduces state intervention". The arguments are built upon jurisprudential foundations,;Western liberal thought which finds a way into the Indian Constitution; free speech theories of John Stuart Mill and Alexander Meiklejohn; et. al.

The author delineates the fact that the laws are still addressing the response-techniques of the times when "the British Empire was trying to stifle the Indian freedom movement through repressive press laws" and takes note of the "post-colonial developments in relation to film censorship" to cite that "judicial attitudes towards political criticism have become more liberal since India became independent" to "contemplate changes to the existing film censorship system and also consider situations where political censorship can sometimes be justified."

The author concludes as under;
The Cinematograph Act is riddled with colonial and statist traces that encourage political censorship. These anachronisms are incompatible with the spirit of the Indian Constitution, which was inspired by the Western liberal belief that political speech must not be suppressed. Indian courts, by adopting the functionalist-liberal ideology of Mill and Meiklejohn, have emphasized the need to allow free and frank criticism of the state—the “counter-view,” as the Bombay High Court described it in Anand Patwardhan’s case. Political censorship not only restricts the artistic freedom of Indian filmmakers, but also inhibits their chances of catering to international audiences that would pay to watch political films about other countries. But what about the impact of political censorship on citizens? “You take somebody that cries their goddam eyes out over phony stuff in the movies, and nine times out of ten they’re mean bastards at heart.”
Yet, as the RDB Effect demonstrates, a sensitive minority of the populace can imbibe political messages from films and effect social change. In a country where several millions of people are passionate about cinema, even a small minority adds up to a numerically large number. Many evils ail India. If Indian filmmakers are allowed to discuss these evils boldly, they can surely help cure some of them―and earn a little extra on the side.

1 comment:

San mateo dui said...

The Cinematograph Act is riddled with colonial and statist traces that encourage political censorship.