Here comes the whip on brow-raising Bollywood tracks. An expert committee appointed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry has recommended that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) certify lyrics of film songs, and censor those with ‘obscene’ and ‘vulgar’ words. Lyricists, of course, don’t like the idea.
“I don’t agree with this recommendation. Let people decide what they want; why should the censor board intrude! Anyway, I don’t think censorship of lyrics will be of any help in this age of Internet and technology,” says National Award-winning lyricist Swanand Kirkire.
The recommendation reportedly came after the panel, headed by former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High court Justice (retd.) Mukul Mudgal, took note of the anger among sections of the society over the wordings of some recent item songs. The panel stressed that while film viewing is restricted to age-specific audience in theatres, songs are promoted and broadcast in public domain to persons of all ages on radio, at public functions and restaurants.
“Aaj kal lyrics mein gaali aur galat shabd use hote hain ... ussey mahaul kharab ho raha hai. Isliye mujhe lagta hai ki agar lyrics bhi certify ho to achcha hi hoga. Hum issey implement karne ka soch rahe hai,” says Shakeel Saifi, member CBFC.
For lyricist Prasoon Joshi, however, sensitisation of the society is more important than censorship.
“As a society, we need to evolve and have a conscience about what is right for us and what is not. Self regulation is the key. We need to develop a culture of rejecting things that harm our society than having a body who tells us to do so. Also, the sensibilities of each individual are different ... I am all for scrutinising the lyrics but don’t know if censorship is the answer,” he says. Filmmaker Pritish Nandy seconds that view. He says, “People should be given the choice to see what they want to see and to hear what they want to. It should not really be the choice of the government to involve itself in censoring.”
Some, though, don’t find the suggestion all that bad, but their concern lies in the effective and objective implementation of it. “One has to see if it works or not. It is not easy as there are many factors involved, including who decides what is vulgar and what is not,” says lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya of Emotional Atyachar fame.