Filmmakers eye TV profit, go for cuts to lose ‘A’ tag

Murder 3
Commercial filmmakers are increasingly choosing non-controversial plots to avoid 'adult' certification by the Central Board of Film Certification. Reason: The risk of losing satellite TV revenues, which have shot up so much in the past five years that they account for 30 to 50 per cent of the total production cost.

Following a long-standing tiff between the CBFC and film producers last year, broadcasters decided not to buy films rated 'A'. "Given the revenues that TV contributes in film production these days, it is natural for producers to create content that can be easily passed as U or U/A," said Sunir Kheterpal, former COO, Big Pictures.

The Bhatt camp, which is known for bold films, for instance, is currently producing two films — Murder 3 and Aashiqui 2 — that have got U/A and U certificates, respectively. "It is not that we have never produced non-adult films, but yes, it is in everybody's interest to make films that draw larger audiences," said Mukesh Bhatt, producer and vice-president of Film and TV Producers Guild of India.

"Adult films may be a huge draw in theatres but they make no commercial sense on TV. Such films cannot be aired during the day time or prime time. Instead, they have to be telecast after 11 pm, which means smaller viewership and therefore, less advertising," said Uday Singh, managing director of Motion Picture Association India Pvt Ltd.

Broadcast rights fetch producers hefty amounts that range from Rs 4-5 crore for small budget films to Rs 45-50 crore for big titles. The maths changes drastically if a film is pushed beyond 11 pm. Private broadcasters, as per their self-regulation guidelines, do not air adult content during the day time. A former executive of Multi-Screen Media Ltd (former Sony Entertainment), which had bought broadcast rights of Dirty Picture, said that the network suffered losses because of the cuts and late night telecast of the film.

"We bought Gangs of Wasseypur last year, but haven't aired it as yet because the 11 pm slot economics doesn't justify the investment we have made in the film," said a senior executive of Colors.

As a recourse, producers of adult films have begun seeking re-certification of their films as U or U/A after suitable cuts. The CBFC initially resisted these efforts. The producers then sought the intervention of the I&B Ministry, which forced the CBFC to relent. "That is how Jism 2, Kya Super Kool Hain Hum were aired on TV. We have been so far re-certifying films, but now increasingly the sentiment within the CBFC is that adult films should not be re-certified. An adult theme cannot be justified as suitable for universal viewing even after massive cuts," said Pankaja Thakur, CEO, CBFC.

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