Central Board of Film Certification

  (Redirected from Indian Film Censor Board)

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC)[1] is a statutory film-certification body in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India. It is tasked with "regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952."[2] Films screened in cinemas and on television may only be publicly exhibited in India after certification by the board.

Central Board of Film Certification
Logo of CBFC.jpg
Formation15 January 1951; 70 years ago (1951-01-15)
PurposeFilm certification
HeadquartersMumbai, Maharashtra
Region served
LeaderPrasoon Joshi
Parent organisation
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting


The Indian Cinematograph Act came into effect in 1920, seven years after the production of India's first film: Dadasaheb Phalke's Raja Harishchandra. Censorship boards were originally independent bodies under the police chiefs of the cities of Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), Calcutta (now Kolkata), Lahore (now in Pakistan), and Rangoon (now Yangon in Myanmar).

After the 1947 independence of India, autonomous regional censors were absorbed into the Bombay Board of Film Censors. The Cinematograph Act of 1952 reorganised the Bombay board into the Central Board of Film Censors.[3] With the 1983 revision of cinematography rules, the body was renamed the Central Board of Film Certification.[4]

In 2021 the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) was scrapped by the Indian government.[5][6]


The board's guiding principles are to ensure healthy public entertainment and education and, using modern technology, to make the certification process and board activities transparent to filmmakers, the media and the public.[7]

Certificates and guidelinesEdit

Film-certificate categories

The board currently issues four certificates. Originally, there were two: U (unrestricted public exhibition) and A (restricted to adult audiences). Two more were added in June 1983: U/A (unrestricted public exhibition, with parental guidance for children under age twelve) and S (restricted to specialised audiences, such as doctors or scientists).[8] The board may refuse to certify a film.[9] Additionally, V/U, V/UA, V/A are used for video releases with U, U/A and A carrying the same meaning as above.

U certificateEdit

Films with the U certification are fit for unrestricted public exhibition and are family-friendly. These films can contain universal themes like education, family, drama, romance, sci-fi, action, etc. Now, these films can also contain some mild violence, but it should not be prolonged. It may also contain mild sexual scenes (without any traces of nudity or sexual detail).

U/A certificateEdit

Films with the U/A certification can contain moderate adult themes, that is not strong in nature and can be watched by a child under parental guidance. These films contain moderate to strong violence, moderate sexual scenes (traces of nudity and moderate sexual detail can be found), frightening scenes or muted abusive language.

A certificateEdit

Films with the A certification are available for public exhibition, but with restriction to adults. These films can contain brutally strong violence, strong sexual scenes, strong abusive language (but words which insults or degrades women or any social group are not allowed), and even some controversial and adult themes considered unsuitable for young viewers. Such films are often re-certified with V/U and V/UA for TV and video viewing, which doesn't happen in case of U and U/A certified movies.

Film Director S certificateEdit

Films with S certification should not be viewed by the public. Only people associated with it (Engineers, Doctors, Scientists, etc.), have permission to watch those films.[10]

Refusal to certifyEdit

In addition to the certifications above, there is also the possibility of the board refusing to certify the film at all.

The board's guidelines are:

  • Anti-social activities (such as violence) may not be glorified
  • Criminal acts may not be depicted
  • The following is prohibited:
    • a) Involvement of children in violent acts or abuse
    • b) Abuse or ridicule of the physically or mentally handicapped
    • c) Unnecessary depictions of cruelty to animals
  • Gratuitous violence, cruelty, or horror
  • No scenes encouraging alcohol consumption, drug addiction or smoking
  • No vulgarity, obscenity, depravity, double entendres or scenes degrading women, including sexual violence (as much as possible)
  • No denigration by race, religion or other social group
  • No promotion of sectarian, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitudes
  • Relations with foreign countries should not be affected.
  • No national symbols or emblems, except in accordance with the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act, 1950 (12 of 1950)[11]


Since 2004, censorship has been rigorously enforced. An incident was reported in which exhibitor staff – a clerk who sold the ticket, the usher who allowed minors to sit, a theatre manager and the partners of the theatre complex – were arrested for non-compliance with certification rules.[12]

Composition and leadershipEdit

The board consists of a chairperson and 23 members, all of whom are appointed by the central government. Prasoon Joshi chairs the board; Joshi became its 28th chairperson on 11 August 2017, after Pahlaj Nihalani was fired.[13] Nihalani had succeeded Leela Samson after Samson quit[14] in protest of an appellate tribunal's overturning of a board decision to refuse certification for MSG: The Messenger. Samson had succeeded Sharmila Tagore.[15]

The board, headquartered in Mumbai, has nine regional offices:

No. Name From To
1 C S Aggarwal 15 January 1951 14 June 1954
2 B D Mirchandani 15 June 1954 9 June 1955
3 M D Bhatt 10 June 1955 21 November 1959
4 D L Kothari 22 November 1959 24 March 1960
5 B D Mirchandani 25 March 1960 1 November 1960
6 D L Kothari 2 November 1960 22 April 1965
7 B P Bhatt 23 April 1965 22 April 1968
8 R P Nayak 31 April 1968 15 November 1969
9 M V Desai 12 December 1969 19 October 1970
10 Brig. R. Streenivasan 20 October 1970 15 November 1971
11 Virendra Vyas 11 February 1972 30 June 1976
12 K L Khandpur 1 July 1976 31 January 1981
13 Hrishikesh Mukherjee 1 February 1981 10 August 1982
14 Aparna Mohile 11 August 1982 14 March 1983
15 Sharad Upasani 15 March 1983 9 May 1983
16 Surresh Mathur 10 May 1983 7 July 1983
17 Vikram Singh 8 July 1983 19 February 1989
18 Moreshwar Vanmali 20 February 1989 25 April 1990
19 B P Singhal 25 April 1990 1 April 1991
20 Shakti Samanta 1 April 1991 25 June 1998
21 Asha Parekh 25 June 1998 25 September 2001
22 Vijay Anand[16] 26 September 2001 19 July 2002
23 Arvind Trivedi 20 July 2002 16 October 2003
24 Anupam Kher[17] 16 October 2003 13 October 2004
25 Sharmila Tagore[18] 13 October 2004 31 March 2011
26 Leela Samson 1 April 2011 16 January 2015
27 Pahlaj Nihalani 19 January 2015 11 August 2017
28 Prasoon Joshi 12 August 2017 Present


The board has been associated with a number of scandals. Film producers reportedly bribe the CBFC to obtain a U certificate, which entitles them to a 30-percent reduction in entertainment tax.[19]

In 2002, War and Peace (a documentary film by Anand Patwardhan which depicted nuclear weapons testing and the September 11 attacks) was edited 21 times before the film was approved for release. According to Patwardhan, "The cuts that [the Board] asked for are so ridiculous that they won't hold up in court. But if these cuts do make it, it will be the end of freedom of expression in the Indian media."[20] A court ruled that the cut requirement was unconstitutional, and the film was shown uncensored.[21]

That year, Indian filmmaker and CBFC chair Vijay Anand proposed legalising the exhibition of X-rated films in selected cinemas. Anand said, "Porn is shown everywhere in India clandestinely ... and the best way to fight this onslaught of blue movies is to show them openly in theatres with legally authorised licenses".[22] Anand resigned less than a year after becoming chairperson in the wake of his proposal.[23]

The board refused to certify Gulabi Aaina (a film about Indian transsexuals produced and directed by Sridhar Rangayan) in 2003; Rangayan unsuccessfully appealed the decision twice. Although the film is banned in India, it has been screened in the UK.[24][25]

Final Solution, a 2004 documentary examining religious riots between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat which killed over 1,000 people, was also banned. According to the board, the film was "highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence".[26][27] After a sustained campaign, the ban was lifted in October of that year.[28]

The CBFC demanded five cuts from the 2011 American film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because of nudity and rape scenes. The producers and the director, David Fincher, eventually decided not to release the film in India.[29]

CEO Rakesh Kumar was arrested in August 2014 for accepting bribes to expedite the issuance of certificates.[30] The board demanded four cuts (three visual and one audio) from the 2015 Malayalam film, Chaayam Poosiya Veedu) (directed by brothers Santosh Babusenan and Satish Babusenan), because of nude scenes. The directors refused to make the changes, and the film was not certified.[31][32]

CBFC chair Leela Samson resigned in protest of political interference in the board's work in 2015 after its decision to refuse certification of the film, MSG: The Messenger, was overturned by an appellate tribunal. Samson was replaced by Pahlaj Nihalani, whose Bharatiya Janata Party affiliation triggered a wave of additional board resignations.[33] The board was criticised for ordering the screen time of two kissing scenes in the James Bond film Spectre (2015) to be cut by half for release.[34]

Udta Punjab (2016), co-produced by Anurag Kashyap and Ekta Kapoor, inspired a list of 94 cuts and 13 pointers (including an order to remove Punjabi city names). The film was approved for release with one cut and disclaimers by the Bombay High Court.[35]  A copy of the film was leaked online, with evidence indicating possible CBFC involvement.[36] Kashyap posted on Facebook that although he did not object to free downloads, he hoped that viewers would pay for the film.[37] In August 2017, days after his removal as CBFC chair, Nihalani said in an interview that he had received instructions from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to block the release of this film and at least one other.[38]

Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017), directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha, was originally denied certification.[39] The film, which had been screened at international film festivals, was eligible for the Golden Globe Awards.[40] The filmmakers appealed to the board's Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), which authorised its release.[41] The FCAT requested some cuts (primarily to sex scenes), and the film was released with an A certificate. Shrivastava said, "Of course I would have loved no cuts, but the FCAT has been very fair and clear. I feel that we will be able to release the film without hampering the narrative or diluting its essence."[42]


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  2. ^ "Welcome to CBFC". www.cbfcindia.gov.in. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  3. ^ "The Cinematograph Act, 1952 and Rules | Ministry of Information and Broadcasting | Government of India". www.mib.gov.in. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  4. ^ "Background". CBFC Website. Central Board of Film Certification. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  5. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (7 April 2021). "Indian Government Quietly Scraps Censorship Appeals Body". Variety. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  6. ^ "With Abolition of Film Certificate Tribunal, Bad Days for Filmmakers Will Become Worse". The Wire. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  7. ^ "Vision & Mission". Central Board of Film Certification. Archived from the original on 8 August 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  8. ^ Jhinuk Sen (15 June 2011). "UA, S, X, R demystified: How films are rated". CNN-News18. Network18 Group. Archived from the original on 16 June 2019.
  9. ^ Jha, Lata; Ahluwalia, Harveen (17 March 2017). "Censor board denied certification to 77 films in 2015–16". Livemint. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  10. ^ "About Us". Indian Board of Film Certification. Archived from the original on 13 December 2018. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  11. ^ "Guidelines". Indian Board of Film Certification. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  12. ^ "Minors caught watching "7-GRainbow Colony"". sify.com. Archived from the original on 3 September 2017.
  13. ^ "Pahlaj Nihalani sacked as CBFC chief, to be succeeded by Prasoon Joshi". The Times of India. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  14. ^ Ashreena, Tanya (16 January 2015). "Censor board chief Leela Samson quits over Dera Sacha Sauda leader's Bollywood dreams". Retrieved 22 January 2015.
  15. ^ Dhwan, Himanshi (29 March 2011). "Danseuse Leela Samson is new Censor Board chief". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  16. ^ IndiaTimes Movies staff reporter (22 July 2002). "Vijay Anand Quits Censor Board". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 January 2012.[dead link]
  17. ^ rediff. com Entertainment Bureau Staff reporter (8 October 2003). "Anupam Kher is new chief of censors". Rediff Movies. rediff. com. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  18. ^ Indo-Asian News Service (16 October 2004). "Sharmila Tagore replaces Kher". IndiaGlitz. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  19. ^ "Tamil Nadu film producers grease palms to get 'U' certificates". The Times of India. 20 August 2014.
  20. ^ "India cuts 'anti-war' film". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  21. ^ "Censorship and Indian Cinema: The Case of Anand Patwardhan's War and Peace – Bright Lights Film Journal". Bright Lights Film Journal. 1 November 2002. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  22. ^ "India's film censor wants to legalise porn". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  23. ^ "India's chief film censor quits". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  24. ^ "UK premiere for Indian drag film". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  25. ^ "YIDFF: Publications: DocBox: #22". yidff.jp. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  26. ^ "India bans religious riot movie". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  27. ^ "Towards A Counter Movement!". 28 May 2006. Archived from the original on 28 May 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  28. ^ "RAKESH SHARMA – Final Solution". rakeshfilm.com. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  29. ^ Child, Ben (30 January 2012). "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo cancelled in India". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  30. ^ "Censor board CEO held for accepting bribes to clear films quickly". The Times of India. 19 August 2014.
  31. ^ "Directors out against CBFC directives". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  32. ^ "The Times Group". epaperbeta.timesofindia.com. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  33. ^ "India's censorship board in disarray amid claims of political interference". The Guardian. 21 January 2015.
  34. ^ Child, Ben (19 November 2015). "Bond and gagged: Spectre's kissing scenes censored by Indian film certification board". the Guardian.
  35. ^ "Udta Punjab not made to malign state: Bombay HC". The Indian Express. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  36. ^ "'Udta Punjab' leak: CBFC claims innocence as all fingers point at them | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  37. ^ "Udta Punjab leaked: Kashyap asks downloads to wait till Saturday". The Indian Express. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  38. ^ "'Sacked As I Didn't Clear Indu Sarkar Without Cuts': Pahlaj Nihalani". NDTV. 19 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  39. ^ "CBFC refuses to certify Prakash Jha's film Lipstick Under My Burkha – Mumbai Mirror -". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  40. ^ "The Cultural Cow That Refuses To Certify A Golden Globe Eligible Film". WMF. Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  41. ^ ""The middle finger is NOT for the CBFC but for the patriarchal society" : Ekta Kapoor". zoomtv.com. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  42. ^ correspondent, Michael Safi South Asia (26 April 2017). "Indian film board clears Lipstick Under My Burkha for release". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 July 2017.

External linksEdit