Movie Laws Of India

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Do you think the directors face no guidelines while shooting the movies you watch? The director can’t shoot or release anything they want. The movies are always guided by strict laws. When we talk specifically about Indian Movies Industries, they have a set of guidelines and rules, which they are bound to follow. 

India’s entertainment sector is unmatched. The Indian entertainment industry, particularly the film industry, is well-known both domestically and abroad for its glitz and glamour. As one of the world’s largest centers for the film industry, it is renowned for its dynamism, diversity, and drama, as well as for the stark cultural variations between its various regions. A movie is made, nonetheless, to engage the audience as well as release creativity and storytelling techniques. 

The Government has established Censorship throughout the nation because it fears that the young, impressionable, and naive Indian public will be taken in by fiction, i.e., cinema.

How Were The Censorship Laws (Movie Laws) Developed In India?

How FILMS are CERTIFIED? Censor Board structure & function, Know all about U, UA, A & S Certificates | StudyIQ IAS

In late 18th-century Paris, the first instance of “control” over the film was established. A catastrophic event occurred when the film stock was combined with another chemical combination, turning it into an explosive substance that unintentionally killed over 126 people in Paris a year & a half after the first film screening in history. Over the course of the decade, this kind of tragedy persisted. In 1909, Britain introduced the first cinematograph legislation with the intention of regulating the issue of cinema permits, and regulating the circumstances of a movie showing gradually translated into even greater restrictions on controlling the substance of the movie, just like human nature. 

The British Board of Film Censors was created in 1912 after a short period. The English started to become aware of the rise in popularity of Indian cinemas in the same period. The Cinematograph Act of 1918, which contained censorship laws, was created in India as a result of a bill to the same effect that was introduced in the Imperial Legislative Council in 1917. This bill also recommended the creation of a law to ensure the safety of the Indian public from inappropriate or otherwise objectionable publications.

The Central Board Of Film Certification

The Cinematograph Act of 1952 establishes the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) as a statutory authority under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to control the public screening of motion pictures.

Only movies that have received Central Board of Film Certification certification are allowed to be publicly screened in India.

The Board has its main office in Mumbai and is made up of non-official members and a chairman who are all chosen by the central government. A regional office is located in each of the following cities: Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Cuttack, and Guwahati. Advisory Panels aid the Regional Offices in screening the movies.

The Central Government selects individuals from many areas of life to serve on the panels as nominees for a two-year term. The Cinematograph Act of 1952, The Cinematograph (Certification) Rules of 1983, and the Central Government’s U/S 5 guidelines all apply to the Certification procedure (B).

Cinematograph Act Of 1918

The next act gave district magistrates the authority to license movies. Local governments were told to designate “examiners” who would screen movies and determine if they were suitable for public consumption. The fact that there were no adequate standards for these inspectors and examiners to use to judge the suitability of the picture was a significant flaw in the act mentioned above. But in 1920, censor boards were set up in significant cities like Madras, Bombay, Calcutta, and Rangoon, and they issued a set of guidelines that had to be obeyed. This progressively resolved the problem. Therefore, these censor boards had a total of about 43 undesirable items that could not be displayed to the general public. 

Because the non-cooperation movement was active throughout the 1920s, scenes depicting incarceration were prohibited from being screened in motion pictures for concern that they may inflame racial tensions among the populace. Additionally, movies that either portrayed or were about Mahatma Gandhi were absolutely forbidden. The British deleted everything that indicated the Indian National Congress, self-governance, revolution in other nations, etc., because they were so terrified of the burgeoning nationalist feelings in the nation. They reflected this fear in the film industry. The censoring situation was reportedly quite disorganized until the 1940s since there was no organization or inter-board cooperation among the 5 boards.

Cinematograph Act Of 1952

The Cinematograph Act of 1952 (the Act) ensures that movies meet the legal requirements. A provision for the creation of a Central Board of Film Certification is included in the Act (the Board). This is the regulating authority in India that grants a permit for a public screening of films to their creators. Following its review of a movie, the Board may:

  • Give the movie permission for unrestricted showings;
  • approve the movie for an adult-only public screening;
  • Before allowing the film to be used for any of those mentioned above, direct such alterations and excisions;
  • Completely reject giving the movie the go-ahead for a showing.

K.A. Abbas v. Union of India is one of the earliest cases in which the question of film censorship was brought up. The Supreme Court of India considered the crucial issue of pre-restriction of cinematography in light of the freedom of speech & expression guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. According to Hidayatullah, C.J., censoring movies that use pre-censorship is lawfully acceptable. However, he noted that the Board shouldn’t apply any unreasonable restrictions on free speech and expression.

Similar questions or queries were raised in the case of S. Rangarajan v. Jagjivan Ram; the Supreme Court came to a conclusion that “risk of procession & demonstration was not a valid ground to suppress the same” if the exhibition of the film could not be lawfully restricted by Article 19 of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court further stated that the State is responsible for upholding freedom of expression.

In deciding Bobby Art International v. Om Pal Singh Hoon, the Supreme Court of India made the assumption that a movie needed to be evaluated in its entirety. According to the court, moments with profanity are acceptable when the movie’s main message—which was to denounce cruelty and corruption—is being advanced.

Censorship Of Movies In India

Censorship in Indian Cinema (Part 1) in mass communication | Personal Tutor

Censorship of Films

Various nations censor films to varying degrees, sometimes as a result of ferocious or persistent lobbying by groups or individuals. The movies that are prohibited in a nation can vary over time.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India’s Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), a statutory censorship and classification authority, regulates movies in India. The board must certify films before they may be screened in public in India, including those that are broadcast on television. Due to its rigid operating procedures, CBFC is regarded as one of the most powerful censor boards in the world.

Types of Certifications

The Central Board of Film Certification primarily awards four different types of certifications:

1. Universal (U)

There are no restrictions on the age groups that may view these types of exhibits, which are known as Unrestricted Public Exhibitions. They could center on social, educational, or family-related issues. There is some fictional violence and only mild profanity in this category. When the Board gives a film a U rating, it must be determined that the whole family, including the kids, can enjoy it.

2. Parental Instruction (U.A.)

This kind of accreditation clarifies that the movie is suitable for viewers of all ages. Children under the age of 12 should, however, be accompanied by their parents since it is in their best interests. The film’s theme could not be suitable for the child without parental direction, which is one possible explanation.

3. Only Adults (A)

Only adults are allowed to see this type of movie, as the certification indicates. Adults are defined as those who are over the age of 18 in this certification. The theme may include upsetting, violent, drug-related, and other scenes that are not recommended for children to witness because they could negatively influence them. A certification will be given to the films that meet the requirements of the standards mentioned above but are inappropriate for minors or people under the age of 18.

4. Only Available to Specific Groups of People (S)

This is the last kind of certification recognized by the board, and it explains why movies with an S rating are only appropriate for a particular group of people. Doctors, as an example. The certification mentioned above must be awarded to a film if the Board believes that the material, nature, and theme should be restricted to members of a particular class of people or profession.

Common Reasons for Banning of a Film Or Censorship

In view of the reasons why films have historically been outlawed or had portions of them censored, the following are the key explanations:

1. Sexuality: Indian society has historically adhered to a strict social framework. Therefore, a medium that depicts sexuality, whether in audio, written, or visual form, that has not been understood by society and is worried about a social stigma is prohibited on the grounds that it might have an impact on Indian’s undignified morality.

2. Politics: When discussing censorship, the isolation of political forces is not far behind. The authorized party to it forbids any description of an allegorical political scenario, whether directly or indirectly. Government officials dislike overtly political undertones; hence they frequently forbid some movies outright or censor or eliminate such parts from them.

3. Communal Strife: In a diverse country like India, a film is restricted if it incites or fosters any kind of communal conflict. The objective is to prevent such a movie’s negative effects on the audience it either purposefully or accidentally targets. The Board bans or censors a movie if the state thinks that it could spark riots because of how a particular community is portrayed in the movie.

4. Inaccurate Representation: On occasion, a famous person may object to how they are represented in a work that will be displayed and ask for its censorship. For more clarity, it should be noted that there have been instances where a person who is the main subject of a biographical work has sued to prevent the publication of the work or to require that it be edited and distributed only with their consent.

5. Religion: Religion does not tolerate any form of disobedience or resistance to the moral principles it upholds. Therefore, any medium that intentionally or unintentionally misrepresents any component of religion, including its teachings, principles, and idols, is harshly condemned. 

6. Extreme Violence: It is undeniably true that depictions of extreme bloodshed and violence can influence and unsettle people’s minds. The mind may get negatively affected psychologically after viewing such events. In the public’s interest, the Board may ban, alter, or censor a scene if it believes that viewing it in any format could have an unintended detrimental effect on the spectator that goes against the amusement or knowledge that scene is intended to impart.

Role Of Film Facilitation Office

It becomes crucial to make use of this nation’s variety in order to foster creative partnerships on a worldwide scale. It is especially true when it comes to gathering and overseeing locally available filmmaking resources. A formal organization like the Film Facilitation Office (FFO) can help in this situation.

To encourage and enable foreign filmmakers to film movies in India, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Government of India, established the FFO within the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC). The FFO is now offering its services to Indian filmmakers as well.

In addition to attempting to develop a film-friendly ecosystem and promote India as a filming destination, it serves as a single-window facilitation and approval mechanism that makes it easier to film in India. 

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting plays a significant role in ensuring that people have access to a free flow of information through the use of mass communication media, including radio, television, films, press and print publications, advertising, and conventional forms of communication like dance and drama. It is the top body for creating and enforcing laws, rules, and regulations pertaining to the same.

Additionally, it provides entertainment and information to all facets of society while carefully balancing the needs of the general public and business interests. It represents the Indian government when interacting with overseas counterparts and is in charge of overseeing international collaboration in the media, cinema, and broadcasting industries.

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, the Government of India, established the National Film Development Corporation Limited (NFDC) in 1975 with the primary goal of advancing the Good Cinema Movement. With renowned directors, NFDC has made notable movies over the years. The Making of the Mahatma (Shyam Benegal), Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro (Kundan Shah), Salaam Bombay! (Mira Nair), The Lunchbox (Ritesh Batra), Mirch Masala (Ketan Mehta), and The Good Road (Gyan Correa) are a few examples. Other films include Ghare-Baire (Satyajit Ray) and Gandhi (Richard Attenborough).

With financial assistance given to more than 300 films in 21 Indian languages, NFDC’s architecture strives to promote a love of quality cinema both domestically and internationally. NFDC has played a significant role in developing an ecosystem to assist the development, financing, and distribution of independent films across the nation, in addition to the production of movies.

Entertainment Laws Under Movie Law

The entertainment industry significantly influences the growth of the nation’s economy. The entertainment sector is booming in India. The Indian film industry is making a name for itself internationally. Before India gained independence, the British government issued a number of laws to control the media and entertainment sector. Since India gained independence, the Indian parliament has revised, replaced, and repealed these laws.

Organizations Protecting Film Producers’ Rights

The following are the major groups that protect the rights of producers in the film industry:

  • Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association
  • Film Makers Combine
  • Association Of Motion Pictures and Television Programme

The following independent associations and organizations serve to protect the interests of the members of the Indian film industry:

  • Cine Artists Association
  • Theatre Owners Association
  • Distributors Association
  • Indian Motion Pictures Distributors Associations

Regulation of the Indian film industry by-laws

Following are the laws that govern the Indian film industry:

  • The Copyright Act of 1957 describes the numerous rights that are included in a film’s copyright.
  • Rights of the film’s creator
  • The duration or term of the copyright
  • the procedure for assigning a copyright license.

One of the most important pieces of legislation in the media and entertainment sector is the Copyright Act of 1957, which details the rules for violating a movie’s or film’s copyright.

The Cinematograph Act of 1952 contains provisions for granting licenses and approving film cinematography. This also incorporates the control of the cinematographic presentation.

The Indian parliament has also passed a number of new rules to regulate the entertainment sector. The rights of the media and entertainment sector are established by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Indian Constitution.

The freedom of speech & expression is guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a). Nonetheless, under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution, the right is subject to a reasonable constraint. 

Other Important Movie Laws:

The Copyright Act,1957

Original literary, dramatic, musical, and creative works, as well as cinematograph films and sound recordings, are shielded from unlawful uses under the Copyright Act of 1957. Copyright laws do not cover ideas, processes, operational techniques, or mathematical concepts as such.

The Trademarks Act,1999

An Act to Amend & Consolidate the Law Relating to Trademarks, To Provide for the Registration and Improved Protection of Trademarks for Goods and Services and To Prevent the Use of Fraudulent Marks.


To conclude, I would like to quote Mae West- “Right now I think censorship is necessary; the things they are doing & saying in films right now just shouldn’t be allowed. There’s no dignity anymore, and I think that’s very important”.

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