New Delhi: The Central Board of Film Certification has recommended a new rule to ban filmmakers from using "censored" scenes and dialogues in promoting movies online.
In a letter to the information and broadcasting ministry, chief censor Pahlaj Nihalani has cited the example of two upcoming sex comedies, Mastizaade and Kya Kool Hain Hum 3, whose trailers are now being shown across digital platforms.
"Both the films have been cleared by the board with adult certificates but we have received multiple complaints that the makers of these films are misleading people by showing portions which had been removed from the approved versions," Nihalani told The Telegraph.
"We have therefore requested the I&B ministry to look into the matter and make appropriate rules in the cinematograph act as we have no jurisdiction over content being shown online."
Milap Zaveri's Mastizaade - starring Sunny Leone, Tusshar Kapoor and Vir Das - is releasing on January 29 while Umesh Ghagde's Kya Kool Hai Hum 3 - starring Kapoor, Aftab Shivdasani and Mandana Karimi - is releasing on January 22.
Both the films have been cleared by the censors this month after a year-long delay in certifications and after the producers agreed to cut about 35 scenes and dialogues each. Several screenings were held at the board office in Mumbai.
"I was shocked to learn that the trailer of Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 has been released on about 40 pornographic websites with all the scenes that we found extremely objectionable and vulgar for even adult audiences," said Nihalani.
"The people watching the promos will be lured into theatres while most of the scenes being shown in online trailers have been removed from the film. What is it if not cheating the audiences?"
Officials in the I&B ministry said that while the Cinematograph Act, 1952, whose rules were finalised in 1983, is silent on online promotion of a film, the point raised by the board seemed "reasonable".
"Currently, there is no control over the films or their trailers shown online but this is a subject that needs to be addressed," said an official in the film division of the ministry.
Another official said that as a detailed amendment of the law is on the cards, provisions for Indian films available online could be also be introduced in it.
At present, promos of all the films released in India also need to be certified separately before they are shown on television or in theatres.
The promos certified as "adult" can only be shown with films certified in the same category and cannot be broadcast on television.
E-mail queries sent to the producers of the films remained unanswered but an executive with Balaji Telefilms, which has produced Kya Kool Hain Hum 3, said the board is "unjustified" in crying hoax about film promotion on a platform it has no control over.
"Controlling content on the Internet is something that even the government would not want to do since it goes borderless," the executive, who did not wish to be identified, told this newspaper.
The censor board's suggestion does not seem to have gone down well with members of the film industry either.
"In this time and age when thousands of pornographic sites are freely accessible to all, how can the board or the government do this kind of moral policing?" asked Mukesh Bhatt, a filmmaker and president of the Film and TV Producers' Guild of India.
"If directors and producers are trying to grab some eyeballs by publicising uncut versions of films or trailers, it should not invite the wrath of the board. Success of any film, after all, depends on how aggressively and strategically is it marketed and publicised."