CURRENT ISSUE AUGUST 5, 2002  

INTERVIEW: VIJAY ANAND

"You Have Vulgarity Because You Don't Allow Even a Kiss"

Vijay Anand's spoke to Principal Correspondent Sandeep Unnithan a few days after he resigned. Excerpts from the interview:

"People who
were shopkeepers
are now censor board members."

Q. Why did you quit as CBFC chairman?
A
. Because I wasn't being allowed to do my job. On July 12, I received a call from the joint secretary in the I&B Ministry in Delhi. She asked me not to raise the issue of x-rated theatres at the upcoming core committee meeting in Bangalore. They had already faxed a letter to my office. This was like taking away my freedom of speech. Read our report, throw it into the dustbin, but let us do our job. The next day, I submitted my resignation. You can do a job either like a master or a servant. I could not be treated like a servant.

Q. Why did you take up this job in the first place?
A
. When Sushmaji called me at home last September and offered me the post of chairman, I told her very clearly that I was a very dangerous man. I'm very independent. But she told me there would be no interference.

We wanted to present a new act in Parliament that would be relevant for the next 50 years. Look at the situation today, look at the nudity on TV. You have Baywatch and FTV. Cinema must have a level playing field-you cannot show a stick to the film industry and let TV channels go scot-free. But the Government gave so much of importance to one stray suggestion (adult theatres) and treated us like stray dogs.

Q. But weren't you legitimising pornography?
A
. Certainly not. All I said was that there was a suggestion from Kerala to have designated theatres showing adult films. This is a state which makes over 200 films every year. A substantial chunk of it is pornographic films that are is shown without certification. This is a vast country. We simply don't have the resources to check every theatre.

Q. What were you trying to change at the CBFC?
A
. The CBFC was all about hollow phrases-God's own words. People between the ages of 50 and 80 were deciding what the majority of viewers, the youth, should be seeing. I found that obnoxious.Why do you think we have so much vulgarity, songs, dances, pelvic thrusts, bathtub fantasies and dream sequences-because you won't allow a simple kiss. Why don't you allow Indian cinema the same freedom that western movies enjoy here? We have people who were shopkeepers yesterday passing judgements on cinema as CBFC members today. They don't look at a film in its entirety-they are just looking to suggest cuts. We wanted members to have a film background so that they understood the process of filmmaking.

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