So far the digital space has escaped the Central Board of Film Certification’s (CBFC) radar. But, after the use of the space to promote what information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry sources call ‘cheap salacious titillation in the garb of free expression’, the government has decided to take serious note of the liberties being taken.
A highly-placed source from the I&B ministry says a special committee is being appointed to deal with profligate content put out on the digital platform.
“Whether it is the trailer of something as lowbrow as the Ekta Kapoor-produced web series, Gandi Baat, or a high-profile trailer of something as upmarket as Veere Di Wedding, we find an alarming disregard for good taste and basic decency in the content produced in India for the digital platform,” says the source, adding that a filmmaker like Ram Gopal Varma chose to cross all limits of decency with his web series, God Sex & Truth, which featured porn star Mia Malkova in a bold avatar.
“We definitely need to find a means of monitoring content on the web. And we’re working on it,” says the government source.
While this “monitoring” is yet to be fully explained, it is unlikely that agency monitoring digital content will be affiliated to the CBFC.
“It will be an independent body which won’t censor digital content, only monitor the content to ensure limits of decency are not crossed,” the source explains.
While the current CBFC chief, Prasoon Joshi, refrained from comment, the former CBFC chief, Pahlaj Nihalani, is vocal about his opposition to what he calls “digitalised filth.”
“I cried myself hoarse opposing what goes on the digital platform. The filth and the vulgarity do not indicate a freedom of expression. They indicate a freedom to propagate perversion and pornography. If the government is finally taking steps to curb digital trash, then I must say, it’s about time,” says Nihalani.