The film ‘Gunjan Saxena, The Kargil Girl’ is being praised. The film is based on the life of Pilot Gunjan Saxena, the first woman helicopter of the Indian Air Force. It was being talked about the acting of the stars in the film, that the Indian Air Force objected to the many scenes and dialogues of this film.
The Air Force also wrote a letter to the Central Board of Film Certification regarding its objections, which explicitly mentioned the allegation of presenting a negative image of the Air Force in the film. The letter has also been sent to Netflix and Dharma Productions.
Dharma created the film and was screened on Netflix. In this film, when Gunjan Saxena arrives at Udhampur airbase, she is made to feel step by step or made to realize that she is a woman, sometimes directly or sometimes indirectly. The Air Force would object to the film’s portrayal of events and situations during Gunjan Saxena’s stay at Udhampur airbase.
The National Commission for Women also commented on the controversy. Even before this, there has been controversy over the portrayal of the army and soldiers. There were also lawsuits. In view of these disputes, on 27 July 2020, the Ministry of Defense wrote a letter to the Central Board of Film Certification. In this letter, the Ministry of Defense has written to the board that such things have come to their notice that in some films and web series, the negative image of the army is being shown.
Therefore, the Ministry of Defense is expected to advise the producers of films and web series to obtain a No Objection Certificate from the Ministry of Defense before showing them about the Army in their films or web series. He was also expected to advise them to avoid showing a negative image of the army. The Army wrote a letter to the Central Board of Film Certification and shared its expectations, but the Ministry of Defense made a mistake.
Competent officials from the Ministry of Defense should have known that the films or other materials shown on web series or over the top (OTT) platforms do not come under the purview of the Censor Board. This letter has no meaning. On 27 July, the Ministry of Defense wrote a letter to the Central Board of Film Certification and on 12 August Gunjan Saxena was released on Netflix, some scenes of which the Indian Air Force objected.
An analysis of the objections of the Indian Air Force on this film reveals two things, firstly, that the Central Board of Film Certification has not advised all the film and web series producers as per the requirement of the Ministry of Defense to either Army or Air Force or Navy. Please take a no objection certificate before making any type of content public. The second thing may be that the Central Board of Film Certification has advised but the producers may not have considered it necessary because there is no such law.
Producers-directors of films shown on OTT cannot be compelled to obtain NOC from competent authorities before showing anything about the Indian Army. Cinemas are closed due to Kovid and all films are being screened on the OTT platform. In such a situation, there is no need for any kind of certification for these films.
The Film Certification Board certifies films that have to be screened whether it is in theaters or at a film festival. The Ministry of Defense or the Indian Army has the right to watch before its release if the films are to be held in public and collective.
If there is any complaint to the Ministry of Defense, it should have been written to the Ministry of Electronics and Technology.
This entire episode once again clarifies that there is a need to regulate the content running on OTT. In the Corona era, the OT platform has become an essential part of entertainment. The imperative of this medium seems to be taking stability amidst the uncertainty of the opening of the cinema hall. All big budget films are releasing here. The size of this venture is also increasing day by day. It has been indicated many times before in this column that all the limits of decorum are being broken in the content shown on the OTT platform for profit.
The distinction between obscenity and entertainment has been erased. The recent data has also confirmed this. There is a web series called Mastram. According to data from an agency, this web series was viewed by more than 10 million viewers in a single day on July 3. According to this, more than 36 million people have seen it till that day.
This web series is available in Tamil, Telugu and Hindi and the number is inclusive of viewers of these three languages. The producers may be presenting this web series in the category of adult, but it is pornographic. A few years ago, Erotic books were sold in yellow foil wrapped in the name of Mastram, but now this game is running freely. Somewhere the audience numbers add to the profits.
One more figure should be noted. I called Netflix’s customer care one day, and in a conversation, the customer care executive said that in the last three months during the Corona period, Netflix’s 1.5 million apps have been downloaded. This is such a large number, which Netflix’s Californians would not have imagined even in their dreams.