Expressing concern over the increasing censorship, Star India chairman Uday Shankar today said this disturbing trend can curb creativity. "There is a disturbing trend of increasing censorships, which in the long-run is likely to undo a lot of gains we've made in the past few decades. Can more and more censorships help our creative minds respond to the pace of rapid technological changes and evolution in creativity? "Ironically, while the world gets bolder, our censor authorities are getting more and more conservative," Shankar told the two-day media and entertainment gathering Ficci Frames here today. He pointed out that in 2015-16 the Censor Board refused certification to 77 movies, up from 47 a year ago and just 23 in the year before. Referring to the hooliganism on the sets of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's movie "Padmavati" in Jaipur and Kolhapur recently, he said, it seems the Censor Board is reflecting the dominant consensus of our society, while there are more and more self-appointed bodies, who have volunteered the task of censoring media and entertainment content. "What is more alarming is that increasingly even the very fora that we'd seek redressal at are more inclined to bless the street-side censorship than speak for the freedom of expression," Shankar rued. Times are such that even after the Censor Board nod we've been forced to screen movies to particular group or two to ensure they are correctly depicted, he said, adding such a demand was made for the Akshay Kumar starrer "Jolly LLB-2", by wherein we were forced to screen it to a group of lawyers and doctors before the public screening. "This was despite the movie had been certified for universal release by the board. And this is just one example.
There is a long list of instances where the creative community has been bullied into changing its output to suit the needs of someone or the other," he said. Shankar lamented that "the most worrying part is that creative minds have begun to self-censor their thoughts and have started killing ideas before they germinate so as to avoid any conflict. And this is really frightening." On the call for censorship in the online space, he said the Internet was supposed to create greater plurality of opinions, but "instead it has created a violent polarity and punishment for disagreement has become the norm now". "There seems to be no room left to have civil debates and no place for disagreements. Punishment for disagreement has become the norm. Institutions tasked with protecting freedom of expression and plurality seem to be at loggerheads with the very objective itself," Shankar concluded.