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I&B Ministry Takes Charge Of Digital Content On OTT; Tanuj Virwani, Akshay Oberoi React, Karanvir Bohra Says, 'Will Affect Those Who Think Sex Sells' - EXCLUSIVE

The notification issued on November 9 gives the I&B Ministry the power to regulate content on the OTT platform. Leading stars on digital platforms comment.

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I&B Ministry Takes Charge Of Digital Content On OTT; Tanuj Virwani, Akshay Oberoi React, Karanvir Bohra Says, 'Will Affect Those Who Think Sex Sells' - EXCLUSIVE
An unexpected and all-too-sudden notification from the Information & Broadcasting ministry signed by the President  of India, informing that the  booming digital platform in India would now be monitored by the Indian Government, has  thrown the Indian film industry into a tizzy. The notification issued on November 9 gives the  Ministry Of Information and Broadcasting the power to  regulate content on the  OTT platform.

Young actor Tanuj Virwani who is a topnotch name on the digital platform after his career-making performances in the webseries Inside Edge, Poison and Code M sees this as the deathknell of artistic liberty on screen. “I personally feel there will be a dramatic change in the content on the OTT (Over The  Top) platform. For the past two years it was like an open season on the digital platform with unlimited freedom to say and show what we want. That will end.” ALSO READ: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video And Other OTT Platforms To Be Now Regulated By I&B Ministry

Tanuj who is the son of the popular  1980s’ actress Rati Agnihotri feels the unlimited freedom on  OTT platform has been abused.  “Many of us  have misused the  absence of censorship in India on the digital platform. We are definitely going to be reined-in now. I just hope censorship  on OTT won’t curb our freedom of expression to a damaging  degree. Because I really feel   the  OTT is the  way forward. Let’s see…Fingers crossed. There can’t be the same censorial yardsticks for  all OTT shows. Often a certain amount of abusive language, nudity and drugs are pivotal to the story. At other times one feels these ingredients are being used to sensationalize the product on OTT. The I&B Ministry must look at every show  on its own merits and  lnot use a common yardstick  for all.” ALSO READ: I&B Ministry Warns Channels To Avoid “Suggestive, Age-Inappropriate” Portrayal Of Kids On Shows

Actor Akshay  Oberoi, popular in  the OTT series High, Selection Day, and Inside Edge agrees with Tanuj. “Working in the OTT space gave me the freedom to play parts that would not be written for the screen. I understand that we should not be irresponsible as content creators.”

Mirzapur  produced by Farhan Akhtar and  his partner Ritesh Sidhwani might have played a part in the I&B ministry stepping into the digital domain. Sources  close  to the  I&B ministry say Mirzapur  “went  overboard with the excessive verbal and visual  violence.”

 Film critic turned filmmaker Karan Anshuman who is the creative mind behind Mirzapur (he’s co-creator, co-writer, co-producer)  feels a rating-system might be the right answer. “There should be no censorship of any kind. Instead a move to a ratings system. It's simple... If you don't like it, don't watch it. There is enough technology tools to prevent kids from watching  the wrong programs.”

Television star Karanvir Bohra who has lately been active on the OTT platform feels the I&B guideline affects only those who try to please with sleaze.  “It will only affect those who think sex sells. The top shows that have done extremely well or are really good are the ones with less sex and sleaze and the  unnecessarily abusive  language.Yes that too will subside. I'm not too fond of so many gaalis. It looks and sounds unnatural.”

 In the West when Netflix acquired the controversial haunting Belgian film on a sex change issue titled Girl, they  issued a warning saying, “film covers sensitive issues, and includes some sexual content, graphic nudity, and an act of self-harm.”

But former  censorboard chief  actress Asha Parekh feels issuing warnings before adult content on OTT is not enough of a disincentive. “Just because you warn the audience that the show is suited for only those above 16 or 18, how can you ensure kids won’t watch it? They have free access to all content on the internet. At the same time, you can’t censor content on  the internet. When Amazon cut scenes from director Francis Lee’s gay film God’s Own Country he advised audiences not to see it on digital.”

Another former  censor board chief filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani thinks checks and curbs on the digital platform are the need of the hour.  “Any and every kind of content is being shown. Many of them have unnecessary use of abusive language just for effect. Censorship should and must be applied to  digital shows and I welcome the I&B ministry’s  decision to monitor what goes  on the internet.”

This writer made several attempts to contact the Minister  for Information & Broadcasting  Prakash Javadekar directly on his number and  through his personal assistant. There was no response.

Image Source: Instagram/tanujvirwani/akshay0beroi/karanvirbohra, twitter/kvbohra
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