Central Board of Film Certification
Formation15 January 1951; 73 years ago (1951-01-15)
PurposeFilm certification
HeadquartersMumbai, Maharashtra
Region served
Prasoon Joshi
Chief Executive Officer
Smita Vats Sharma
Parent organisation
Ministry of Information and Broadcasting
Websitecbfcindia.gov.in Edit this at Wikidata
Formerly called
Central Board of Film Censors (1952–1983)

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is a statutory film-certification body in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India. It is tasked with "regulating the public exhibition of films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952."[1] The Cinematograph Act 1952 outlines a strict certification process for commercial films shown in public venues. Films screened in cinemas and on television may only be publicly exhibited in India after certification by the board and edited.

Certificates and guidelines

Four yellow boxes with black letters: U, UA, A and S
Film-certificate categories

The board currently issues four certificates. Originally, there were two: U (unrestricted public exhibition with family-friendly movies) and A (restricted to adult audiences but any kind of nudity not allowed). Two more were added in June, 1983 that are U/A (unrestricted public exhibition, with parental guidance for children under 12) and S (restricted to specialised audiences, such as doctors or scientists).[2] The board may refuse to certify a film.[3] Additionally, V/U, V/UA, V/A are used for video films with U, U/A and A carrying the same meaning as above.[4]

U certificate

Films with the U certification are fit for unrestricted public exhibition and are family-friendly. These films can contain universal themes like education, family, drama, romance, sci-fi, action etc. These films can also contain some mild violence, but it cannot be prolonged. It may also contain very mild sexual scenes (without any traces of nudity or sexual detail).

U/A certificate

Films with the U/A certification can contain moderate adult themes that are not strong in nature and are not considered appropriate to be watched by a child below 12 years of age without parental guidance. These films may contain moderate to strong violence, moderate sexual scenes (traces of nudity and moderate sexual detail can be found), frightening scenes, blood flow, or muted abusive language. Sometimes such films are re-certified with V/U for video viewing.

A certificate

Films with the A certification are available for public exhibition, but with restriction to adults (aged 18+). These films can contain strong violence, explicit and strong sexual scenes, abusive language, but words which insult or degrade women or any social group and nudity[5][6][7][8][9][10][11] are not allowed. Some controversial and adult themes are considered unsuitable for young viewers. Such films are often re-certified with V/U and V/UA for TV , which does not happen in the case of U and U/A certified movies.[12]

S certificate

Films with S certification cannot be viewed by the public. Only people associated with it (doctors, scientists, etc.), are permitted to view these films.[12]


The Indian Cinematograph Act came into effect in 1920, seven years after the production of India's first film: Dadasaheb Phalke's Raja Harishchandra. Censorship boards were originally independent bodies under the police chiefs of the cities of Madras (now Chennai), Bombay (now Mumbai), Calcutta (now Kolkata), Lahore (now in Pakistan), and Rangoon (now Yangon in Myanmar) it was amended again on 1 August 2023 with the introduction of cinematography amendment bill. the bill awaits presidential assent

After the 1947 independence of India, autonomous regional censors were absorbed into the Bombay Board of Film Censors. The Cinematograph Act of 1952 reorganised the Bombay board into the Central Board of Film Censors.[13] With the 1983 revision of cinematography rules, the body was renamed the Central Board of Film Certification.[14]

In 2021 the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) was scrapped by the Indian government.[15][16]


The board's guiding principles are to ensure healthy public entertainment and education and, using modern technology, to make the certification process and board activities transparent to filmmakers, the media and the public also every video have to undergo CBFC certification for telecasting or distributing over any platform in India and suggestible same standards for anywhere in the world.[17]

Refusal to certify

In addition to the certifications above, there is also the possibility of the board refusing to certify the film at all.

The board's guidelines are:


Since 2004, censorship has been rigorously enforced. An incident was reported in which exhibitor staff – a clerk who sold the ticket, the usher who allowed minors to sit, a theatre manager and the partners of the theatre complex – were arrested for non-compliance with certification rules.[19]

Composition and leadership

The board consists of a chairperson and 23 members, all of whom are appointed by the central government. Prasoon Joshi chairs the board; Joshi became its 28th chairperson on 11 August 2017, after Pahlaj Nihalani was fired.[20] Nihalani had succeeded Leela Samson after Samson quit[21] in protest of an appellate tribunal's overturning of a board decision to refuse certification for MSG: The Messenger. Samson had succeeded Sharmila Tagore.[22]

The board, headquartered in Mumbai, has nine regional offices:

No. Name From To
1 C S Aggarwal 15 January 1951 14 June 1954
2 B D Mirchandani 15 June 1954 9 June 1955
3 M D Bhatt 10 June 1955 21 November 1959
4 D L Kothari 22 November 1959 24 March 1960
5 B D Mirchandani 25 March 1960 1 November 1960
6 D L Kothari 2 November 1960 22 April 1965
7 B P Bhatt 23 April 1965 22 April 1968
8 R P Nayak 31 April 1968 15 November 1969
9 M V Desai 12 December 1969 19 October 1970
10 Brig. R. Sreenivasan 20 October 1970 15 November 1971
11 Virendra Vyas 11 February 1972 30 June 1976
12 K L Khandpur 1 July 1976 31 January 1981
13 Hrishikesh Mukherjee 1 February 1981 10 August 1982
14 Aparna Mohile 11 August 1982 14 March 1983
15 Sharad Upasani 15 March 1983 9 May 1983
16 Surresh Mathur 10 May 1983 7 July 1983
17 Vikram Singh 8 July 1983 19 February 1989
18 Moreshwar Vanmali 20 February 1989 25 April 1990
19 B P Singhal 25 April 1990 1 April 1991
20 Shakti Samanta 1 April 1991 25 June 1998
21 Asha Parekh 25 June 1998 25 September 2001
22 Vijay Anand[23] 26 September 2001 19 July 2002
23 Arvind Trivedi 20 July 2002 16 October 2003
24 Anupam Kher[24] 16 October 2003 13 October 2004
25 Sharmila Tagore[25] 13 October 2004 31 March 2011
26 Leela Samson 1 April 2011 16 January 2015
27 Pahlaj Nihalani 19 January 2015 11 August 2017
28 Prasoon Joshi 12 August 2017 Present


The board has been associated with a number of scandals. Film producers reportedly bribe the CBFC to obtain a UA certificate, which entitles them to a 30-percent reduction in entertainment tax.[26]

In 2002, War and Peace (a documentary film by Anand Patwardhan which depicted nuclear weapons testing and the September 11 attacks) was edited 21 times before the film was approved for release. According to Patwardhan, "The cuts that [the Board] asked for are so ridiculous that they won't hold up in court. But if these cuts do make it, it will be the end of freedom of expression in the Indian media."[27] A court ruled that the cut requirement was unconstitutional, and the film was shown uncensored.[28]

That year, Indian filmmaker and CBFC chair Vijay Anand proposed legalising the exhibition of X-rated films in selected cinemas. Anand said, "Porn is shown everywhere in India clandestinely ... and the best way to fight this onslaught of blue movies is to show them openly in theatres with legally authorised licences".[29] Anand resigned less than a year after becoming chairperson in the wake of his proposal.[30]

The board refused to certify Gulabi Aaina (a film about Indian transsexuals produced and directed by Sridhar Rangayan) in 2003; Rangayan unsuccessfully appealed the decision twice. Although the film is banned in India, it has been screened in the UK.[31][32]

Final Solution, a 2004 documentary examining religious riots between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat which killed over 1,000 people, was also banned. According to the board, the film was "highly provocative and may trigger off unrest and communal violence".[33][34] After a sustained campaign, the ban was lifted in October of that year.[35]

The CBFC demanded five cuts from the 2011 American film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because of nudity and rape scenes. The producers and the director, David Fincher, eventually decided not to release the film in India.[36]

CEO Rakesh Kumar was arrested in August 2014 for accepting bribes to expedite the issuance of certificates.[37] The board demanded four cuts (three visual and one audio) from the 2015 Malayalam film, Chaayam Poosiya Veedu) (directed by brothers Santosh Babusenan and Satish Babusenan), because of nude scenes. The directors refused to make the changes, and the film was not certified.[38][39]

CBFC chair Leela Samson resigned in protest of political interference in the board's work in 2015 after its decision to refuse certification of the film, MSG: The Messenger, was overturned by an appellate tribunal. Samson was replaced by Pahlaj Nihalani, whose Bharatiya Janata Party affiliation triggered a wave of additional board resignations.[40] The board was criticised for ordering the screen time of two kissing scenes in the James Bond film Spectre to be cut by half for release.[41]

Udta Punjab (2016), co-produced by Anurag Kashyap and Ekta Kapoor, inspired a list of 94 cuts and 13 pointers (including an order to remove Punjabi city names). The film was approved for release with one cut and disclaimers by the Bombay High Court.[42]  A copy of the film was leaked online, with evidence indicating possible CBFC involvement.[43] Kashyap posted on Facebook that although he did not object to free downloads, he hoped that viewers would pay for the film.[44] In August 2017, days after his removal as CBFC chair, Nihalani said in an interview that he had received instructions from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to block the release of this film and at least one other.[45]

Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017), directed by Alankrita Shrivastava and produced by Prakash Jha, was originally denied certification.[46] The film, which had been screened at international film festivals, was eligible for the Golden Globe Awards.[47] The filmmakers appealed to the board's Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), which authorised its release.[48] The FCAT requested some cuts (primarily to sex scenes), and the film was released with an A certificate. Shrivastava said, "Of course I would have loved no cuts, but the FCAT has been very fair and clear. I feel that we will be able to release the film without hampering the narrative or diluting its essence."[49]


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  2. ^ Jhinuk Sen (15 June 2011). "UA, S, X, R demystified: How films are rated". News18. Network18 Group. Archived from the original on 16 June 2019.
  3. ^ Jha, Lata; Ahluwalia, Harveen (17 March 2017). "Censor board denied certification to 77 films in 2015–16". Livemint. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Certification". cbfcindia.gov.in. Archived from the original on 29 May 2022. Retrieved 6 June 2022.
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  6. ^ "Nudity, the final frontier for films in India". livemint. 28 January 2014.
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  9. ^ "CBFC bans computer-generated nudity". Dna India.
  10. ^ "CBFC reported bans film title x zone due to graphic love making scenes, nudity". Firstspot. 10 September 2017.
  11. ^ "Sanskari CBFC Bans Nudity on Robots & Blurs Alcohol Bottles From Blade Runner 2049 But Allows Swear Words". India.com. 3 October 2017.
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  13. ^ "The Cinematograph Act, 1952 and Rules | Ministry of Information and Broadcasting | Government of India". www.mib.gov.in. Retrieved 19 January 2021.
  14. ^ "Background". CBFC Website. Central Board of Film Certification. Archived from the original on 26 August 2010. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  15. ^ Ramachandran, Naman (7 April 2021). "Indian Government Quietly Scraps Censorship Appeals Body". Variety. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
  16. ^ "With Abolition of Film Certificate Tribunal, Bad Days for Filmmakers Will Become Worse". The Wire. Retrieved 8 April 2021.
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  18. ^ "Guidelines". Indian Board of Film Certification. Archived from the original on 9 August 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Minors caught watching "7-GRainbow Colony"". Sify. Archived from the original on 3 September 2017.
  20. ^ "Pahlaj Nihalani sacked as CBFC chief, to be succeeded by Prasoon Joshi". The Times of India. 11 August 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
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  22. ^ Dhwan, Himanshi (29 March 2011). "Danseuse Leela Samson is new Censor Board chief". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
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  25. ^ "Sharmila Tagore replaces Kher". IndiaGlitz. Indo-Asian News Service. 16 October 2004. Archived from the original on 23 October 2012. Retrieved 9 January 2012.
  26. ^ "Tamil Nadu film producers grease palms to get 'UA' certificates". The Times of India. 20 August 2014.
  27. ^ "India cuts 'anti-war' film". BBC News. 19 August 2002. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  28. ^ "Censorship and Indian Cinema: The Case of Anand Patwardhan's War and Peace – Bright Lights Film Journal". Bright Lights Film Journal. 1 November 2002. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  29. ^ "India's film censor wants to legalise porn". BBC News. 27 June 2002. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  30. ^ "India's chief film censor quits". BBC News. 22 July 2002. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  31. ^ "UK premiere for Indian drag film". BBC News. 6 May 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  32. ^ "YIDFF: Publications: DocBox: #22". yidff.jp. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  33. ^ "India bans religious riot movie". BBC News. 6 August 2004. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  34. ^ "Towards A Counter Movement!". 28 May 2006. Archived from the original on 28 May 2006. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  35. ^ "RAKESH SHARMA – Final Solution". rakeshfilm.com. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  36. ^ Child, Ben (30 January 2012). "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo cancelled in India". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  37. ^ "Censor board CEO held for accepting bribes to clear films quickly". The Times of India. 19 August 2014.
  38. ^ "Directors out against CBFC directives". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  39. ^ "The Times Group". The Times of India. Retrieved 21 July 2017.[dead link]
  40. ^ "India's censorship board in disarray amid claims of political interference". The Guardian. 21 January 2015.
  41. ^ Child, Ben (19 November 2015). "Bond and gagged: Spectre's kissing scenes censored by Indian film certification board". The Guardian.
  42. ^ "Udta Punjab not made to malign state: Bombay HC". The Indian Express. 10 June 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  43. ^ "'Udta Punjab' leak: CBFC claims innocence as all fingers point at them | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  44. ^ "Udta Punjab leaked: Kashyap asks downloads to wait till Saturday". The Indian Express. 16 June 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  45. ^ "'Sacked As I Didn't Clear Indu Sarkar Without Cuts': Pahlaj Nihalani". NDTV. 19 August 2017. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  46. ^ "CBFC refuses to certify Prakash Jha's film Lipstick Under My Burkha – Mumbai Mirror -". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  47. ^ "The Cultural Cow That Refuses To Certify A Golden Globe Eligible Film". WMF. Archived from the original on 24 June 2017. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  48. ^ ""The middle finger is NOT for the CBFC but for the patriarchal society" : Ekta Kapoor". zoomtv.com. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  49. ^ correspondent, Michael Safi South Asia (26 April 2017). "Indian film board clears Lipstick Under My Burkha for release". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 21 July 2017.