The question running in the minds of filmmakers in Kollywood is whether the censor board has become more stringent in recent weeks. Last weekend, among the 10 Tamil films playing in the theatres, only three were rated 'U' while the rest were either 'A' or 'U/A'.
Given that only 'U' rated films get 30 per cent tax exemption in Tamil Nadu, this is quite revealing. Industry insiders say that there are two incidents behind this development — the Delhi gang-rape in December 2012 and the Vishwaroopam controversy in January 2013.
"Both these incidents brought the censor board under the scanner for diverse reasons. While the former raised concerns on the censor's policy regarding representation of women in our films, the latter brought forth questions on whether the censor board should have considered the social impact before clearing the movie," says a director on condition of anonymity.
Added to that, accusations like that of director Ameer claiming that censor board officials demanded money for giving a 'U' certificate, have only continued to keep the board in the spotlight. But regional officer of the censor board, V Packirisamy, says that the two issues haven't affected the board's approach. "We are following most of the same yardsticks as we have done before.
It is just that the films that released this year dealt with subjects that were adult. There were films which could not be given a 'U' certificate even if the director agreed to cuts because of their content. Even a comedy film like Onbathula Guru had adult content," he explains and adds that there is no discernible change in the mindset of the filmmakers regarding certification.
"30 per cent tax is a huge amount. Everyone still wants to get 'U' certificate as much as possible," he says. However, a producer speaking anonymously, says, "Recentlydrawn rules like 'A' certificate for films with item songs only show that the censor is tightening the screws."