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REVAMPING THE SILVER SCREEN: EXPLORING THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE CINEMATOGRAPH AMENDMENT ACT 2023 ON INDIA’S FILM INDUSTRY

INTRODUCTION

As the world has taken shape from VCR to a digital screening of movies, the ordinances governing such movies cannot be obsolete. Lately, the Union Cabinet authorized the Cinematograph Amendment Bill, of 2023[1] to amend the Cinematograph Act, of 1952.[2] The draft of the Bill had first been presented by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in the year 2019 Rajya Sabha.[3] The bill, however, is expected to be introduced in the parliament during the monsoon session. It has provisions for categorizing films based on age group, improvement in the certification process of the films through the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), and achieving uniformity in the categorization of films and content across various platforms.[4]

HISTORY

The remarkable Indian Cinema which initiated its career in 1912,[5] has come a long route in the world of theatres. The first movie to ever be released in India was a Marathi-language silent film, Shree Pundalik (1912), and Raja Harishchandra (1913). The former was produced by Dadasaheb Torne and the latter by Dada Saheb Phalke.[6] Dhundiraj Govind Phalke, also known as Dada Saheb Phalke, is the “Father of Indian Cinema”.[7] Kisan Kanya, released in 1937, was the first indigenous film that instilled the seeds of colour in Indian Cinema.[8]

THE CINEMATOGRAPH ACT 1952

The Cinematograph Act, of 1952 was legislated by the Parliament to guarantee that the films abided by the tolerance of the Indian culture.

Few points of the act

The establishment of a Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is mentioned under section 3 of the Act comprising a Chairman and 12 to 25 members appointed by the Central Government.[9] The CBFC board and its members sanctioned and certified films under four assortments

  1. Universal (U)
  2. Parental Guidance (UA)
  3. Adults only (A)
  4. Restricted to special class of persons (S)

Based on the contemporaneous exemplars of Indian Society, the panel scrutinizes the films following the procedure laid down under section 4 of the Act.[10] After a comprehensive inspection, the panel can either assemble a speaking order of refusal or bestow the certificate which shall be valid for 10 years.[11] If rejected, the aggrieved may incline toward and appeal to the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal and must overcome three encumbrances.[12]

  1. The Examining committee
  2. The Revising committee
  3. Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal

If repudiated by all three bodies, then the film is enunciated to be outlawed, and proceeding to the court remains the final alternative.

CINEMATOGRAPH AMENDMENT BILL, 2023

The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill was introduced in 2019 in Rajya Sabha to grind down the matters of copyright transgression and piracy, and to forbid the unauthorized recording of films. It introduces new film certification, and categorization of films based on age groups, and brings uniformity in the categorisation of films and content. The bill forbids an individual from utilizing a recording contrivance to make a replica or transmit a film, without composed approval from the producer of a film. Individuals who create replicas of a film without approval shall be penalized with imprisonment up to 3 years, or a fine up to Rs.10 lakh or both.[13] The panel put together the subsequent observations and propositions.

The apparatus to tackle cross-border piracy: The anti-counterfeiting trade agreements that obscure intellectual property rights matters vary from country to country incorporating music and movies and are not signatory to India. This was scrutinized by the panel and hence application of the provision in the bill in lawsuits of digital piracy across borders is rigid to execute. However, the panel recommended that the Digital Economy Act along the lines of national law should be assessed as it has witnessed adoption by a few nations like the USA and UK. Such a law will deliver a legal rationale for negotiation on these cases with additional countries.

Need for the bill: Under the Copyright Act of 1957, piracy of films is a punishable offence that includes imprisonment for a term between six months and three years. It was observed by the panel that the proposed amendment in the Cinematograph Act may not be required as such offences are already adequately covered in other existing laws, therefore effective implementation was the notion put forward by the panel for tackling piracy. The rigorous piracy law as suggested in the bill will incarcerate the lawbreaker for three years and a Rs. 10 Lakh liability for those pertained to piracy.[14] The fallacy of piracy will be a legal transgression and even the transmission of pirated content will be punishable.

Certification of films: The panel scrutinized that the 1952 act does not obscure a vast span of matters on the general populace and the modification of the data and cinematography terrain in the current period. In this context, the panel remarked that the current law requires to be revamped to grapple with varied issues associated with film certification. Therefore, in the recently proposed bill the certification of a film, once bestowed, will be perpetual rather than the 10-year limit as expressed in the 1952 Act.

New Sub-age Categories for Film Classification: Earlier, the category of films was accomplished based on the ratings of films. However, the classification will now be done based on age group instead. Added new categories are: ‘A’, ‘UA-7+’, ‘UA-13+’, ‘UA-16+’ and ‘A’(adult).[15]

CONCLUSION

As the restraints of obsolete regulations lose their clasp, the new amendment ushers in a golden period for Indian cinema, designating filmmakers to thrust limitations and fascinate a global audience. This initiative brought by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is a massive effort taken for the advancement of Indian cinema. The availability of pirated content coaches a deficient number of viewers through which incredible monetary losses are suffered. After 2020, the cinema has seen a deficiency in its viewers as more viewers are inclined towards streaming series on various Ott platforms. The authorization of the act has witnessed great applause and responses from the theatrics people. The new Cinematograph Act 2023 is anticipated to bring an optimistic oscillation to contemporary theatre. With the advent of a new amendment, the very fabric of Indian cinema is set to be rewoven, empowering filmmakers to explore uncharted territories and deliver groundbreaking content that resonates with an ever-evolving audience.

Author(s) Name: Aliya Shaikh (Dr. D. Y. Patil University of Law)

References:

[1]Govt decides to bring Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2023 to check piracy in film industry’ (2023) All India Radio News https://newsonair.gov.in/Main-News-Details.aspx?id=459598> accessed 15th June 2023

[2] Cinematograph Amendment Act 1952.

[3] ‘Cinematograph Amendment Bill 2023’, Byju’s Exam Prep (2023) <https://byjus.com/free-ias-prep/cinematograph-amendment-bill-2023> accessed on 15th June 2023.

[4] Last updated by Kathleen Kuiper, ‘Central Board of Film Certification’, Britannica (2023)< https://www.britannica.com/topic/Central-Board-of-Film-Certification> accessed 15th June 2023

[5] Heena Moiwala, ‘An Ode to Father of Indian Cinema’, Udaipur Times (2023) <https://udaipurtimes.com/entertainment-our-lifestyle/father-of-indian-cinema/> accessed 15th June 2023

[6] ‘110 years of India’s first feature film Raja Harishchandra’ Times of India (2023)

<https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/110-years-of-indias-first-feature-film-raja-harishchandra/articleshow/99943210.cms> accessed 15th June 2023.

[7] Entertainment Desk, ‘Dadasaheb Phalke: A brief history of the Father of Indian Cinema; a man of many talents’ The Indian Express Journalism of Courage (2023) <https://indianexpress.com/article/entertainment/bollywood/dadasaheb-phalke-a-brief-history-of-the-father-of-indian-cinema-raja-harishchandra-8575271/> accessed dated 15th June 2023.

[8] Wikipedia, ‘Kisan Kanya’ Wikipedia the free encyclopaedia (last edited on 14th May 2023)

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kisan_Kanya#:~:text=Kisan%20Kanya%20was%20a%201937,first%20indigenously%20made%20colour%20film.> accessed on 15th June 2023

[9] Aastha Khanna, ‘The Cinematograph Act 1952: The Guardian of Victorian Morality and Decency’, Legal Service India E-Journal <https://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-2911-the-cinematograph-act-1952-the-guardian-of-victorian-morality-and-decency.html> accessed on 15th June 2023.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Cinematograph Amendment Act 1952, Section 5(a) (3).

[12] Cinematograph Amendment Act 1952, Section 5(c).

[13] Standing Committee Report, ‘The Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill 2019’ <https://prsindia.org/billtrack/prs-products/prs-standing-committee-report-summary-3188> accessed on 15th June 2023.

[14] Supra note 11.

[15] Supra note 3.