When it comes to using animals in films, it looks like Indian filmmakers are in for even tougher times ahead. A letter from animal activist Maneka Gandhi to the Minister Of Information & Broadcasting Ms Ambika Soni has set of a flurry of activity in official quarters of the government. The letter dated 22 March 2012 from Ms Gandhi to Ms Soni clearly alleges that Bollywood film producers are "making a fool" of the Animal Welfare Board Of India (AWBI) and the censor board.
In the letter Maneka Gandhi says, "They (the producers) send a script but will not mention animal activity in India or will give wrong activity.Then when the film is shot they send the CD for approval to the AWBI without the schemes involving animals in it. The AWBI gives the NOC (No Objection Certificate) on the basis of the CD. The producer then reinstates the scenes and goes to the censor board with the NOC. These scenes are usually very violent. The censor board instead of questioning these scenes which are blatantly cruel, simply take it for granted that they have an NOC and pass the film."
The letter goes on to give the example of Sajid Nadiadwala's Housefull 2 where Akshay Kumar is seen wrestling crocodiles and a python.
Ms Gandhi also accuses some regional officers of the CBFC of "blatantly ignoring the rules." She cites the example of the Tamil film Adukulam where the rooster fights that were the film's mainstay had not been approved of by the AWBI.
The letter has triggered a flurry of debate within the censor board. A source from the censor board says there are radical changes on the anvil regarding the depiction of animals in Hindi films.
Says our source, "It will no longer be easy for filmmakers to bypass rules regarding animals. For example Nadiadwala shot the scenes with pythons and crocodiles outside India. That exempted the scenes with the animals from scrutiny and rectification by the AWBI and CBFC. The censor board is in the process of covering such loopholes."