Disclaimers, ID proofs: Theatres, cinema chains demand inspections for A-rated films
Shweta Goswami was 22 when she went to watch Gangs Of Wasseypur back in 2012. But because she didn't look adult enough, she was stopped by the security personnel for an ID proof to confirm her age. Cinema chains say such checks and inspections are routine as far as 'A' certified films are concerned as their exhibition to a non-adult is a major violation according to the Indian film censor body.
Online disclaimers, demanding proof of age and giving refunds to those not willing to adhere to the norms, is part and parcel of the game.
In a most recent case, teenagers in Jaipur were found faking their age on their Aadhar cards just to watch the A-rated Bollywood film Kabir Singh.
They said they booked bulk tickets through BookMyShow, and no one asked about their age or identity proof.
But an attempt to book a ticket on the online platform BookMyShow will tell how reminders about the film's 'A' certificate pop up at two stages.
First, when you try to book it, the terms and conditions include: "Person below the age of 18 years cannot be admitted for movies certified `A'. And then a reminder before you choose the seats -- "Adult Movie - Children below 18 years are not allowed."
If a person below 18 years of age still books it, it becomes the theatre's responsibility to keep a check.
Largely, theatre chains claim they follow various guidelines in advising the audience about content.
Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas, told IANS that the multiplex chain strongly advocates a shared responsibility with the parents and guardians in protecting the children from A-rated content.
He elucidated: "While giving patrons information about the movies playing at the cinema, the staff member always informs the patron about the censor rating, especially in case of an A-Certified movie. At the box office, the staff member does not generate tickets for a patron without first informing the patron about the rating of the movie and checking that no minor (below 18 years) is accompanying.
"Our box office staff is also advised to stamp tickets for A-Certified movies with A sign. At the cinema and audi entrances, the staff members ensure that patrons are aware of and comply with the censor ratings for the movie. In case of any doubt about the age of a patron, the duty manager may request the patron to provide proof of age in original.
"In case the patron is not able to do so, he/she is requested to go to the ticket box to either buy a ticket for a ‘U' movie or to seek a refund. In such a case, if there are no other ‘U' movies running and the patron's ticket is live, the personnel at the ticket box takes the ticket back and refunds the money."
If, however, a patron brings his or her child along to watch a A-certified movie, the staff explains that the movie content is not suitable for viewing by a child. Thereafter, if the patron insists, the statutory provision of the censor board of not allowing entry to the child is explained to the patron.
Additionally, Dutta, said they ensure not to play any A or U/A certified trailers/advertisements along with a U certified movie, apart from making sure all their movie listings carry movie certifications against their name.
Mohan Umrotkar, CEO, Carnival Cinemas, said that beyond the online disclaimer and check at the box office, there are a few more check points at the cinema level.
"First is the security clearance where the guards check the ticket and validate the suitable age of the patrons with a photo ID proof and sometimes if they claim that they are 18 or above, but don't have the proof, the guards ask their parents or guardians to fill the self-declaration form.
"Second is entrance control, while entering into the auditorium and a final inspection with the screening round just before the film begins. We keep random audits during the shows sometimes as well."
Umrotkar has a suitable suggestion: "At times when adults bring kids or teenagers, with the facility of multiple screens at multiplexes, they rather send them for other suitable films which are running simultaneously."
According to Amit Sharma, Managing Director, Miraj Cinemas, they have lots of refunds happening in cinema halls in case anyone comes with a child for an 'A' rated film.
"We deny them entry and refund them the ticket amount," Sharma said.