No end to Censor Board woes?
After being accused of poor security measures last year following the leaking of the film Premam during its censoring, the Censor Board, Kerala, has found itself in trouble yet again.
The censor officials are now no longer able to watch the movies at the Chitranjali Studio, where they used to preview films for censoring.
The Chitranjali Studio has been converted into a DI (Digital Intermediate) studio now, as part of several other innovations. As a result, the censor officials now have to travel all the way to Kalabhavan Theatre for the purpose. “The Kalabhavan Theatre screens its own movies every day, and can allocate time for the censor movies only before the noon show. Hence, we are able to preview only one film per day. Also it is not easy to reach the theatre which is situated 10 km away from the Censor Board office at 9 am,” says Prathibha, Regional Censor Board Chief.
She adds, “This can’t be a permanent solution, and during film festivals, there will be non-availability of theatres resulting in longer delays.”
While the state-of-the-art facilities at Chitranjali has fetched accolades from visitors, it has resulted in inconveniences not just for the Censor Board officials but for producers as well.
The producers are not able to calculate when exactly their films will get censored, and the release dates are getting pushed, they allege. “How can the government just convert Chithranjali without a proper backup plan? Now we have to wait for the availability of a government theatre for previews, and have to pay a hefty amount as rent,” says producer Vijay Babu, whose upcoming film is yet to get a release date because of this.
Prathibha also alleges that the Censor Board officials were not informed of the decision to shift the preview theatre. “Though it is the KSFDC (Kerala State Film Development Corporation) which makes the decisions, they should at least have consulted us before making such a move, as we are the ones affected by it,” she says.
However, KSFDC Chairman Rajmohan Unnithan has a different story to tell. The only reason behind the preview theatre being shifted from Chitranjali to Kalabhavan is that the KSFDC wanted all its organisations under one roof, he claims. “This includes the Censor Board, many film clubs and film societies.
Everything was under one roof earlier but many offices including the Censor Board had to be evicted as they failed to pay the utility arrears properly. Following a request to bring back the Censor Board to the KSFDC premises, the director board suggested that the Kalabhavan theatre be used for previews. If they had paid the arrears, we could even have built a mini theatre exclusively for them,” he says, adding that the Kalabhavan theatre is being rented out at a subsidised rate for the previews.
Meanwhile, although the piracy of Premam was a huge controversy, not many security measures have been introduced in the Censor Board premises yet. During the Premam piracy issue, it was discovered that a contract staff member had copied the film on its way to being censored, after which it ended up on the internet even while it was running successfully in theatres. “We have introduced CCTV cameras in the premises. But there is a lot more to be done. The hallmarking of the print is yet to be introduced, but only the central ministry can take a decision in such matters. We also need to increase the staff strength as most of the staff are still contract employees,” Prathibha alleges.
Sources claim that though the films given for censoring are sealed, someone can easily steal the sealed copy as a whole, especially since the staff are still contract employees.Well, it looks like we have to wait for another leak for the authorities to sit up and take notice.