Society and Culture

Clamping down on creativity

By censoring films at the behest of a few, we embolden fringe groups to take the law into their hands

Mar 30, 2017
With an annual production of about 1,600 to 2,000 films, both in Hindi and in regional languages, India is the largest producer of films in the world. According to Deloitte’s ‘Indywood — The Indian Film Industry Report’, till December 2015, the gross box office realisation of the film industry was $2.1 billion. Undoubtedly, the film industry is not only a robust industry, it also plays a pivotal role in our nation. While entertaining, it also provides education, develops a national character, and mirrors the society at large. However, in the largest democracy with the longest Constitution, films often become the target of public ire and of censorship. The recent controversies over Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati and the Prakash Jha-produced Lipstick Under My Burkha have again ignited the debate between the liberals and the conservatives, between the custodians of Indian cultureand the urban intelligentsia. But in the cacophony of arguments and counterarguments, no one has referred to the blueprint of the young nation: the Constitution of India. Since it is the Constitution which guarantees the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression, and defines the contours of the said freedom, perhaps we should consider the interrelationship between the Constitution and cinema.
The issues
Some of the burning issues that confront us are: How does the Constitution of India define freedom of speech and expression? What are the limits on the said freedom? Why are films banned? Are these bans constitutionally valid? What views have been expressed by the final interpreter of the Constitution, the Supreme Court of India, about these bans on the films? Are we on the right constitutional path when we ban films? What consequences would these bans have on our freedom of speech and expression and on the rule of law?
Read more at:
The Hindu, March 30, 2017

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