And as per the new regulations, from now on, OTT platforms should also put in place a self-classification of content under the categories of 13+, 16+ and A categories, alongside mechanisms of parental lock to ensure that children don’t see them. The platforms should also have grievance redressal systems and self-regulating bodies headed by retired Supreme Court or High Court judges, or any other eminent personality, they said.
When we quizzed a handful of Malayalam filmmakers about the same, here’s how they responded to the announcement:
I understand that there should be a check on malicious content creation and distribution. However, I am not really in favour of clamping down on healthy creative processes in the name of regulations. To be honest, I am not someone who even feels that the current classifications like 13+, 16+ and the like for films screened in theatres are relevant enough. Who decides what content falls under these sections?
For instance, though my film that was released on OTT was censored without a cut or mute, there are people who asked me ‘How will we watch those intercourse scenes and the like with kids?’ I believe that the parents and kids here should mentally grow to a level where such scenes can be watched together and the right kind of sex education should also happen for the same. I would say only after taking care of such aspects should age-based regulations be brought in spaces like OTT.’
We have been thinking so far that the OTT platform has been a good opportunity. It has been helping to create multiple types of content, with reduced restrictions and enough freedom. It wasn’t like conceiving a movie for a theatre audience, as things like censorship weren’t there. I fear whether this would mean the end of that freedom of expression and it would get reduced to just a dream.
I welcome the regulations. I believe that it would be healthy to have some restrictions on contents that aren’t child-friendly, or might hurt religious sentiments. On OTT platforms, many things that theatres censor are openly available. Everything might have loopholes, but as part of following a system, such regulations are good. In my own home, for those programmes that are not for children, there are password settings in place and so I feel these rules make sense.
When we take subscription to an OTT platform, don’t they ask to specify whether it is a child or an adult? Also, generally, when a content isn’t available for consumption, the tendency to find access to it would be more. I also don’t think that on OTT platforms, it would be possible to effectively bring in regulations that restrict certain contents in a particular country. As most of them aren’t based out of India as well, I doubt whether such steps can really be well-implemented.