We have heard a lot about the Central Board of Film Certification, its misplaced priorities and attempts to force the ideology of the government. Filmmakers have complaints about the corruption in the board. But, the corruption in the CBFC is so rooted that the officials shamelessly sing ‘money…money,’ while watching films!


“Censor Board has always been wrong. It is an idiotic and corrupt organisation,” said veteran filmmaker Kumar Sahani in an interview to Asianet News. His encounters with the CBFC have never been smooth as he was not ready pay bribe. “They would suggest cuts for even the most innocent scenes, just to get bribe,” he recounted. The CBFC officials object to scenes in the films before them so that people would finally bribe them to get the U-certificate, he said.

 In my last encounter, the CBFC  official was absolutely shameless.


“In my last encounter- it was many years ago, as I haven't made films for quite some time- the (CBFC) official was absolutely shameless. He was asking me to cut scenes that are absolutely innocent. Every time it has happened. And he was singing 'Money.. Money..',” said the renowned filmmaker who was in town the other day.  


I had to wait for two years, because I had to appeal to his higher ups and ask for a review. Then they agreed to give a universal certificate. I believe that the commercial film makers include some outrageous scenes just to give the censor board officials to cut and to demand bribe. The scenes are never intended in their films. But I can’t afford to shoot such extra scenes nor can I give bribes, Sahani said.  


"I made Char Adhyay, based on a novel by Rabindranath Tagore. It was an austere film. Right at the end of the film, there is a shot that startles everyone.  It was startling, but Tagore meant that. And they were not letting me to carry the scene. Then I had to appeal to I K Gujral, the then Prime Minister. Many international film makers, film festival people intervened."

"The Censor Board is an idiotic and corrupt organisation. There's no doubt about it."


Man in lungi


John Abraham

Kumar Sahani's face lit up when he started talking about his old friend and FTII (Film and Television Institute of India, Pune) batchmate John Abraham, the late Malayalam film maker. 


"John was a quite a 'mast' character. He would constantly celebrating one thing or the other. That's why I liked him very much. He was always positive about life, music, people around him.

John spent the whole night in the Lodhi Gardens. He went and embraced one tree. Later he said the insects came and ate him up.


He had come to Delhi once and spent the whole night in the Lodhi Gardens. He went and embraced one tree. He later said that all the insects came and ate him up. I had even written about it. 


Once we went to Pesaro in Italy for a film festival. John would roam around the streets there wearing his multi-coloured lungi with all those flowers printed on it. Everybody thought he was wearing a frock."

Poverty of mind

Sahani, who is planning to finish his long-pending project ‘Priye Charuseele,’ a film based on Geetha Govindam, express anguish over the spreading moral vigilantism in the country.

“Moral policing is something reprehensible. It comes out of repression. And   repression finally would find its space only in violence. You keep on repressing, you end up moralising on others. It is happening all around India now,” the filmmaker said.    

Paradoxically, people are hitting others and raping women on moral grounds!

“Paradoxically, people are hitting others and raping women on moral grounds! Recently a minister was heard exhorting people to rape women. It's a terrible world. They have no respect for women and no respect for their own lives,” Sahani regretted. Moral policing is a product of poverty of both physical and material and of mind.


Priye Charuseele 

I have nearly finished my latest film. Actually I started it in 2008. But at that time the whole world economy went down. I was getting some money from Italy. It stopped. I somehow managed to restart it and now some of my former students are producing the film.