Dharamsala, November 9: This is TWA’s petition to Chairperson of India’s Central Board of Film Certification, in response to the decision to ban Tibetan content in ‘Rockstar’. Please also sign this petition to voice your disapproval of the board’s decision.
Smt. Leela Samson, Chairperson
Central Board of Film Certification
91-E Walkeshwar Road,
Mumbai 400 006
Subject: Request for the revision of the board’s decision to ban Tibet in ‘Rockstar’
Respected Smt. Leela Samson,
In the wake of the directive received by the makers of the Bollywood film ‘Rockstar’ from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to censor the minute portrayal of the Tibetan National Flag and the slogans signifying the Tibetan struggle, we are calling on the CBFC to reconsider and rescind their decision which is an affront to the dignity of the six million Tibetans and a shameful violation of freedom of speech and expression.
The fact that the Censor Board finds these depictions objectionable is illogical, radical and biased and not befitting the eminence and role of the Censor board.
Films are a creative medium for expression and Bollywood is an entity that embodies freedom of speech and expression, and is thus respected internationally. Deleting minute references to Tibet in a song sequence from the film ‘Rockstar’ will in the longer run jeopardize the image, spirit and prestige of Bollywood and India’s fundamental values.
It is noteworthy that this monumentally wrong decision was taken in the light of the Cinematography Act, 1952, and the principles for guidance in certifying films, issued by the Central Government under section 5B(2), particularly- clause 2, point xvi- ‘friendly relations with foreign States are not strained’. We do not believe displaying the ‘Tibetan National Flag’ and the ‘Free Tibet’ banner in the song ‘Sadda Haq’ will threaten India’s relations with China especially when the Indian Government have themselves hosted more than 100,000 Tibetans on Indian soil for the last 52 years and have not objected to the Tibetan freedom struggle.
Unlike China, India is a democratic country with strong commitment to the Freedom of Speech and Expression. “Liberty of thought, expression, and belief” serves as the bedrock foundation of the nation’s constitution. Unfounded fear of strained relationship with China should not compromise the core values that formed this great nation of India.
This aberrant action by the Censor Board – which functions under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India – sets a dangerous precedence that allow brutal regimes like China to be off limit from any scrutiny in Indian films for the fear of straining ‘friendly relationship’. With this precedence, should there be a film based on the Tibetan struggle in the near future as inklings suggest, would the Censor board ban the entire film? Does the guidelines of the Censor board supersede core values as enshrined in the constitution of India?
We are also aware of the recent Mumbai trip (November 3-6) of Xinjiang governor Nur Bekry who welcomed Bollywood to China.
We urge the board to reconsider its decision and not bow and scrape under the authoritative and controlling nature of Chinese government. We hope that the Baord will stand up for Indian values and for the ideals they embody as enshrined in the Constitution of India.
Dolkar Lhamo Kirti
Tibetan Women’s Association
The Tibetan Women’s Association (TWA) is the second largest Tibetan Non Governmental Organization (NGO) based in exile India and the only women’s NGO in Tibetan history. We are today a 16,000 member organization with 56 chapters in four continents; Asia, US. Europe and Australia. TWA‘s slogan is ‘Advocacy for Home and Action in Exile.’
Cc: Ambika Soni, Minister, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Mr. Pankaj Thakur, CEO, Central Board of Film Certification
Imtiaz Ali, Director, Rockstar
Dhillin Mehta, Producer, Rockstar