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13 Apr 2024, Edition - 3196, Saturday

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Is CBFC in good hands now? Are we celebrating Pahlaj Nihalani’s exit?

Indrani Thakurata


Pahlaj Nihalani has been by far the most famous CBFC chief. Or rather infamous for the umpteen controversies that he has courted in his three year tenure. He was appointed to head the board in January 2015 and would have completed his three years in January, but for his untimely exit. He is making way for the famous lyricist-adman Prasoon Joshi, and actor Vidya Balan. So are we expecting a smooth road ahead for film now on? “ Yes, his exit may mean less cuts,improved sensibility. Nihalani was following the government’s diktat to the ‘T’, which won’t be the case hopefully. It will be interesting to see how he influences the movie industry,” says Rhythma Kaul, a self confessed movie buff.

Among many of Nihalani’s scandal, the recent one shook the nation–his refusal to certify the film, ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’, a story that revolves around the life of four women and their sexuality. Director Alankrita Shrivastava won her case after challenging the censor board at an appeals tribunal. The release of the film was an encouragement against such moral policing. “He let his prejudices come in the way of his profession, which was mainly to certify and not do moral policing,” It wasn’t long ago, when NIhalani’s board ordered 89 cuts and asked the producers to erase all references to Punjab in ‘Udta Punjab’, a film that vividly showcases the the drug problem in the state. The cuts and the diktats didn’t go down well with producer Abhinav Kashyap, who raged a war against the CBFC along with many of his industry colleagues and fans.

The high court came in to rescue the film, with all references intact apart from one. “Nihalani was a despotic head with very little understanding of today’s world or the way youth functions may be. Because he objected to the word intercourse in Harry Met Sejal, where the world is concerned, we have moved ahead of this. He was a sanskari baba who couldn’t deal with the new age terms and concepts that have become regular in our life,” says Nishtha Bhatnagar, Entertainment reporter.

Prasoon Joshi, who won the Padma Shri in 2015, is one of the film industry’s leading lyricists and screenwriters. He had penned down the lyrics for ‘Maa’ in Taare Zameen Par (2008) which won him many heart apart from awards. His work was appreciated in Rang DeBasanti and Neerja. “Eventhough he seems to be close to the government, it will be interesting to see how he balances his professional commitment along with his personal likes.

Movies should be free of clutches. They should be able to say what they want to without hindrances. They can be something disturbing, or futuristic. And for a certification board, they aren’t supposed to manipulate the content, but rather slot it accordingly,” concludes Nishta.

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