The topic of censorship on the arts has always been an important issue in the public domain of any society. In this global metropolitan we understand that censorship is important for certain content but when we specifically talk about Film censorship, we fail to agree on anything.
The department for film censorship in Pakistan is called the censorship certification board. The guidelines upon which any film is censored, and who decides to interpret those guidelines is unclear.
In Pakistan we have three different censorship boards. One national censorship board in the capital city, Islamabad and two regional certification boards in Lahore and Karachi.
Firstly it is difficult to understand why we have three different boards with this authority. Secondly, there seems to be no consistency or logic behind the decisions to censor one type of content or another.
Here however, what we beleive are the possible solutions and reforms to improve film censorship in the country.
1. Need for Vision
We not only need a person with vision to chair the censor board, but also one with experience and knowledge about cinema along with a sense of authority. In this revival phase of cenima where we as an industry are re evaluating everything, we are in an immediate need of a visionary person as the censor board head. One who would be willing to take authority and work with industry insiders to take Pakistan’s cinema industry forward.
2. Major Reforms
In the coming age of digital media, all kinds of content is easily available anytime, anywhere. The recent flood of web shows have set the bar of quality and production value rather high. If we want to compete with the growing digital entertainment industry, we need to have some major reforms in what can be shown and to whom. It is preferable if movies with mature and adult content are shown with strict entrance requirements for adults, instead of banning them entirely.
3. The issue of many Censor Boards
Another important and practical step is to make the censor board independent. We do not need three different offices working on the same thing which creates confusion. We should either have a central censorship board or regional ones. Having them both together only complicates the matters.
4. Categorization and Certification instead of Censorship
In the times where we openly talk about the freedom of speech and freedom of thought why is censorship even a problem? Why don’t we, instead of censoring movies, simply categorize and give them certificates accordingly. Introducing ratings akin to the UA and A standards will result in a more diverse movie watching experience. That way filmmakers will be given free rein to explore more subjects.
The last and most important thing is to make the censor board independent of government control. It’s sad when filmmakers abandon certain projects lest it result in government backlash. It’s not the censor board’s duty to be the moral police for filmmakers. Their duties should be defined and specific.