Drawing the line
A Mumbai based lecturer I hear has moved the courts with his public interest litigation (PIL) demanding that it must be made binding on all Cable wallahs to show only that stuff on TV that are passed by the Censor Board of Film Certification (CBFC). He is perturbed by the unwarranted ill effect that such programmes cause on the children. Contrary to what you may presume I support this.
It has now been established that visual medium has long-term effects on child psychology. I am not going to pen an essay on the merits and demerits of the idiot-box here but I know that violence and nudity on this household medium has been increasing everyday and there is absolutely no control on how much of it percolates to children. No child-lock can guarantee that. You cannot police your child round the clock. Talking of the impact, I remember that while watching some Hindi movie my parents used to recall, “you were just a kid when we went to see this movie in a Cinema”, I would hardly remember it, but many times it happened having seen a scene depicting violence, the hero being dragged by a rope by the villain riding a horse and the like. My mother says that they could not watch Sholay in entirety and had to leave the hall midway, as whenever Gabbar would come on screen I would start crying. If you don't believe how seriously I take this, I must mention that I removed my cable connection soon after Tanmay was born. My wife and I decided that in order to curtail the impact we must first teach ourselves to be away from satellite TV. I only watch DD at my home and I am able to see its impact already which my mid mocking the “Apang, opang, japang? commercial of Horlicks and glued to the set without bashing his eyelid whenever the “school chale hum” promo is being played.
Coming back to the subject, it is true that while movies in India have to get a CBFC certification the same yardstick does not apply for TV (or for that matter also for Internet). By the night Cable wallahs open doors for unheard TV channels or play their own TB-6 shows under the very nose of Government. Some channels do show program ratings before showing them but I have seen mature programs (take “Sex and the City” for instance) being telecast at Primetime. With the onslaught of Internet never kids are exposed to porn like never before. Can you be sure that while your kid is surfing the net, the guy next-cubicle will not be surfing any porno site? Can you sure about your own kid? Now, I would not debate on “censorship” here but Why not allow cafe-owners to erect closed cubicles market “A” meant for adults (lest that goes on to become some other kinda trade)?
I know these issues are touchy. We are in a free-market economy; we want to be hip like the west. But then, the lines need to be drawn somewhere.
An Update: While the Mumbai High court has passed the decree on the channels based on this PIL, the CBFC chairman Anupam kher, who is an accomplished actor himself, said that he was the first to point the matter of nudity on TV, but confessed that CBFC has no manpower to tackle this considering the magnitude of such programmes churned out by the hour. It is up to the Channels, he maintains, to realize the perils and censor themselves.