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Law of Film Industry, India

From past few decades, entertainment industry, to be more specific, the film industry of India has seen immersive growth in it & as a result, today India is the largest is the largest film production hub in the world since 2007.[1] In the fiscal year 2020, the film industry in India was worth around 183 billion Indian rupees. Even after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, this was projected to more than double the following year (2021). Estimates for fiscal year 2022, on the other hand, indicated a 196 percent increase.[2]

The Glorious Journey from 1919 to 2021

When we think of film industry in India, the phrase “Bollywood” comes around our mind. Bollywood is majorly Hindi language-based film industry. But as India has multilingual culture, there are various language-based production houses (Tollywood, Kollywood, ChandanaVana etc.) which’s contribution cannot be denied by anyone. If we dig deep in history, we see Bengali film production houses showed the light to Indian film industry in 1919. The first film was featured in 1919 namely “Billwamangal”. Since then, other film regional industries in India followed the footsteps & the positive outcome is in front of our eyes today. Bengal has given ‘North-stars’ of Indian film industry such as Satyajit Roy, Mrinal Sen, Uttam Kumar, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak etc. many more. The Bengal industry is well-known for being aesthetic with extreme intellectual level. Movies like The Apu Trilogy (1955-59), Nagarik (1952), Kabuliwala (1961), Charulata (1964), Subarnarekha (1965) etc. are the living example of it.[3] After it, Amitabh Bacchan, Rajesh Khanna, Sashi Kapoor, Sushmita Sen, Amjad Khan etc. successfully carried the legacy and founded the bedrock of Indian film industry.

Current Scenario of Film Industry from the Lens of Law

When a sector grows and more people become a part of it, various opinion, viewpoints conflicts with each other’s. A film creator goes through contracts including development arrangements and profit contracts with list of actors. Contracts for the purchase of rights to another’s work, screenplay option, a life storey agreement, a contract to hire a writer to write, rewrite, or finish a script, project agreements, partnership negotiations, and co-product agreements are among the types of contracts that must be drafted and signed mostly during development stage of a film or television series production.

A Glimpse on Cinematograph Act, 1952-

The Cinematograph Act of 1952 (the Act) acts as a watchdog that films meet the legal requirements. It talks about the creation of a Central Board of Film Certification & Appellate Tribunal. These are the Indian regulatory organisations that gives certificates to filmmakers for public screening. The board along with advisory committees in regional centres has the authority to assess every film and authorise it for unrestricted or adult-only exhibition. The Board also has the authority to reject or to authorise or direct any modification in a film for public display. The certification system is governed by the Cinematograph Act of 1952, the Cinematograph (certification) Rules of 1983, and the protocols issued by the Central Government under Section 5(B).[4]

Currently, films are accredited in four categories-

  1. Universal (U) – Unrestricted Public Exhibition, no age restrictions, contains less bad language, appropriate for a family to view together, including children.
  2. Parental Guidance (UA) suitable for all age groups It is, however, in the best interests of children under the age of 12 to be accompanied by their parents.
  3. Adults Only (A) – restricted to adults only, may contain disturbing, violent, drug abuse and other related scenes.
  4. Restricted to Special Class of Persons (S) – for a special class of persons only, restricted to members of a class of persons or any profession.

The Board looks after that any anti-social activities are not justified or glorified, words, visuals do not provoke to commit of any offence, brutality, abuse of animals, acts including children as victims of violence, abuse are not portraited needlessly, obscene behaviour patterns are not shown. Acts of sexual violence against women (rape or molestation) are avoided as much as possible.

  • Constitution of Central Board of Film Certification-

The Board is made up of a chairman and non-official members nominated by the Central Government. The headquarter is located in Mumbai, Maharashtra. It also has nine regional offices, which are located in Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Guwahati, Cuttack, Kolkata, and Thiruvananthapuram.

  • Precautions implied by Central Board[5]
  1. Religion hatred- Any film that directly or indirectly distorts any element of religion, including preaching, morals, and idols, to mention a few, is censored.
  2. Communal hatred- If a film incites or encourages any sort of communal strife, it is banned. The goal is to prevent the repercussions that such a film would have on the audience.
  3. Sexuality- As in India a rigorous, sensitive social system is present, a film that depicts sexuality, in audio, written, or visual form is prohibited on the grounds that it may undermining morality.
  4. Invalid portrayal- If the factual nature and the person in a film does not approve of its reality, the person has the right to sue to prevent the medium from screening, or can direct to alter & release with the person’s consent.
  5. Political scenario- If any visual or word have the potential to damage the reputation of a political party, such party forbids direct, indirect portrayal of such controversial scene in the film.
  6. Extreme violence- Viewing extreme violent scenes may have a detrimental psychological impact. If the Board thinks that the movie may have an influence on the spectator, the scene may be prohibited, modified, or censored in the public interest.
  • Punishment for violation of Cinematograph Act

Section 7 of the Cinematograph Act[6] establishes punishments for censorship violations. A person who violates the law, or fails to comply with section 6A or fails to comply with any order of CBFC, can face imprisonment for a term of up to 3 years, a fine of up to Rs.1 lakh, or both, and a further punishment of up to Rs.20,000 for each day if the infringement continues. Any police officer may enter a venue where an infringing film is being exhibited, search the premises, and confiscate the print under Section 7A.

The proposed amendments in Cinematograph Act and it’s controversy

The category U/A should be divided further based on age into U/A 7+, U/A 13+ and U/A 16+. The bill further empowers Central government to order CBFC to reassess the certificate it has issued, if the Central government feels that it does not comply with the ‘Guiding Principles’ under Section 5B (1). CBFC cannot certify films which are contrary to the interests of the state’s sovereignty, integrity, security, friendly relations with other states, public order, decency, morality, defamation, contempt of court or probably work as fuel to commission any offence.

The cabinet has also suggested to add Section 6AA, which targets piracy, be included. Accepting the standing committee’s verdicts, they decided on a minimum sentence of 3 months, which can be extended up to 3 years. The administration also proposed a 3-lakh fine & squash the 10-lakh maximum. It can now be expanded up to 5% of the audited gross production cost, or both.

The proposed change does nothing except deprive the CDFC’s autonomy and enable the union government to issue further certification. The Union government appoints all CBFC members, advisory panel members, and regional officials. The new amendment merely enhances existing powers, allowing the government to withdraw or suspend film certification based on vague criteria such as public decency, national security and/or public order and others.[7]

The Cine-workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Act, 1981 & the Cine-workers and Cinema Theatre Workers (Regulation of Employment) Rules, 1984 & Copy Right of Films

The Act of 1981 protects low-wage actors and technicians involved in the making of feature films in terms of their work terms and conditions, wage payment, and other services. The Copyright Act of 1957, the Copyright Rules of 1958, and the International Copyright Order of 1999 are the primary Intellectual Property Rights legislation pertaining to the media sector.[8] Copyright generally lasts for a period of sixty years in the case of cinematograph films from the date of release. In September 1958, the Copyright Board was established as a quasi-judicial entity. The Copyright Board has authority over the whole country of India.[9]

Conclusion

As the film industry in India is growing every year, number of conflicts and complexity is also increasing. As the number of movie privacy is increasing daily new legislation has to be done, old laws have to be amended if necessary. However, not only mere legislation, but also effective implementation with efficient judicial resolve process has to be done. Thus, India can hold the crown of largest film production hub in the world.

  Written by – Indranil Banerjee

College – Amity Law School, Kolkata 3rd year, 5th semester


[1] Shakeel8436, Bollywood mp3 the Largest Film Market in the World, CXMMARKETINGGROUP, (Aug. 4TH, 9:13 am),  https://www.cxmmarketinggroup.com/post/bollywood-mp3-the-largest-film-market-in-the-world/1668/.

[2] www.statista.com, https://www.statista.com/statistics/235837/value-of-the-film-industry-in-india/, (Last visited on Aug. 4).

[3] Ankita Mukhopadhyay, 15 Bengali Movies That I Think Are A Must Watch, youthkiawaaz, (Aug. 4th, 9:59 am), https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2015/11/15-must-watch-bengali-movies/.

[4] LAWYERSCLUBINDIA, https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/laws-relating-to-making-and-releasing-of-movies-in-india-11823.asp, (last visited on Aug. 5th, 2021).

[5]Censorship of Films in India, STALAWFIRM, (Aug. 5th 2021, 11:24 AM), https://www.stalawfirm.com/en/blogs/view/censorship-of-films-in-india.html.

[6] The Cinematograph Act, 1952, § 7, No. 37, Acts of Parliament, 1952 (India).

[7] Shreya Juyal, What is the Cinematograph Act amendment that’s becoming a controversy now, Deccan Chronicle, (Aug. 5th  2021 12:54 PM), https://www.deccanchronicle.com/nation/current-affairs/080721/explainer-cinematograph-act-amendment-all-that-you-need-to-know.html.

[8] Rajkumar S. Adukia, MEDIA LAWS OF INDIA, Caaa.in, (62, 64), http://caaa.in/Image/media_laws.pdf.

[9] Law Corner, https://lawcorner.in/an-overview-of-the-copyright-act-1957/, (last visited Aug. 5th, 2021).

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