The CBFC in the recent past has been the talk of the town with Pahlaj Nihalani’s moral policing ideas for the films. The censor board has become a precinct of controversy as many times as films would come for certification.
Hence highlighting the censor board for all the wrong reasons has proven detrimental for Pahlaj Nihalani in getting him sacked as the organisation’s chairman. He will be succeeded by lyricist-adman Prasoon Joshi. Moreover, actress Vidya Balan joins the board.
His colleagues too weren’t all praises for him. The had accused him of treating the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) like his personal domain, while filmmakers and critics accused him of demanding irrational cuts and moral policing. The latest victims to his moral policing and absurd cuts in the film were ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ and ‘Babumoshai Bandookbaaz’.
Recent issues involved a demand for multiple cuts in Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Indu Sarkar” which depicts the Emergency and his refusal to certify “Lipstick Under My Burkha” which explores female sexuality, calling it a “Lady Oriented” film.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava challenged this decision and gloriously won her case after challenging the censor board at an appeals tribunal and the film went down well appreciated.
He was appointed as the chairman back in January 2005 and quite evidently has always been entangled in various controversies all through his tenure.
He had recently objected to the word “intercourse” in the Shah Rukh Khan’s film ‘When Harry Met Sejal’, and was also sharply criticised for his decision to bleep words like “cow” and “Hindu India” in a documentary on economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.
Last year, Mr Nihalani’s board had ordered 89 cuts for the mega-hit film ‘Udta Punjab’ and told the producers to remove all references to Punjab, elections and political parties. The film depicted the state’s drug consumption problem. The high court restored all references and advised the censor board “not to kill creativity”.
Mr Nihalani was reportedly informed last month by the Ministry of information and broadcasting that he could be replaced and technically his tenure was supposed to end in January.
Pahlaj Nihalani’s successor Prasoon Joshi, who will be heading the board next, has many a feathers in his cap. He won the Padma Shri in 2015 and is one of the film industry’s leading lyricists and screenwriters. The renowned adman-lyricist has twice won the National Award for Best Lyrics for ‘Maa’ in Taare Zameen Par (2008) and ‘Bolo Na’ in Chittagong (2013).
If this wasn’t enough, he had written the lyrics for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anthem for the ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyan’ and also has films like ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Neerja’ to his credit.