Filmmakers and artistes, who felt restricted by the censorship rules, found the over-the-top (OTT) platforms as a way to express themselves freely. But they are now concerned about moves to regulate this medium too and argue that instead of putting curbs, there should 'age-based' certification.
Their concerns stem from the Supreme Court's recent direction to the Centre to regulate the content featured on OTT media platforms, where shows and films on are often laced with nudity, violence and strong language.
Filmmaker Sachin Yardi, who jumped into the web space bandwagon with "Chopsticks", lauded the digital space for the freedom it gives to artistes and is against censorship on the digital medium.
"Everyone has his own individual idea of what censorship should be and I have mine. At the very core of all of this, we shouldn't undermine the intelligence of people at large and that it is crucial," Yardi told the publication.
He said one "should not make an opinion of what others should see".
Actress Kubbra Sait, who became famous by playing Kuckoo, a transgender in the popular crime thriller "Sacred Games" and shot a scene with frontal nudity, said there is no need of another 'censor board' for OTT content.
She believes in age group-appropriate certification.
"It allows the freedom to make a choice, of whether you want to watch it or not. But I don't understand a body of professionals who decide for the population, whether or not they think it's appropriate for them to watch/consume the content," Kubbra told the publication.
The actress asks as to why there is a need of a digital censorship board as there are enough disclaimers and parental controls when watching content on demand.
"A story needs to be told the way it has either happened or has been written. A board to censor even the content on web is now a tiring debate. Makers need the freedom to make what they want to. The viewers have the same freedom to watch what they want to," she said.
In January, Online Curated Content Providers, including Netflix and Hotstar, voluntarily signed a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). Amazon Prime Video, however, is not part to the self-regulatory code.
Actor Ali Fazal, who featured in Amazon Prime Video's crime thriller "Mirzapur", feels that censorship will lead to piracy.
"The fact that a bunch of nerdy randoms must have brought this up because 'Hey, why not? We've managed to censor films, how dare they get away with digital?' I don't think anyone knows what to censor…," said Ali.
"I'm sorry to say but this may motivate people to go back to piracy, something we as an industry have been fighting for years and people will un-subscribe to all Indian OTT platforms happily if its censored because it is hypocrisy in the Indian context," he added.
Filmmaker-choreographer Farah Khan, who is venturing into the digital space with "Mrs Serial Killer", is also not in favour of censorship on the medium.
"I truly don't believe in censorship. I believe in a certificate which says 13+, 16+ or 18+ (rating). Give it a rating and people can judge it for themselves… When anything and everything is censored, what is art for me may be censorable for you," said Farah.
Richa Chadha, who has featured in the Amazon Prime's "Inside Edge", says it is best to give shows and cinema on OTT platforms "an age-based rating".
"Currently, the Internet is free of censorship, and content makers are enjoying this new found freedom. I am not in favour of censorship per se, but it worries me that a 12-year-old is watching shows about guns and castrations," Richa said to the publication. [By Durga Chakravarty]