With Pahlaj Ni­ha­lani Gone & Pra­soon Joshi in, Film Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion Re­forms Set to Be­gin

Cen­tre an­nounces a re­con­sti­tuted CBFC board that in­cludes film­maker Vivek Ag­ni­hotri, ac­tors Gau­tami Tadi­malla and Vidya Balan Joshi’s ap­point­ment was fast-tracked to avoid em­bar­rass­ment to the gov­ern­ment

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

Our Po­lit­i­cal Bu­reau

New Delhi: The I&B min­istry has sackedPahla­jNi­ha­la­nian­dap­pointed Pra­soon Joshi as the chief of the Cen­tral Board of Film Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. Ni­ha­lani’s three-year con­tro­ver­sial tenure­wastoend­inJan­uary2018.The Cen­tre also an­nounced a re­con­sti­tuted CBFC board that in­cludes film­maker Vivek Ag­ni­hotri, ac­tors Gau­tami Tadi­malla and Vidya Balan. An of­fi­cial said Joshi’s ap­point­ment was fast-tracked to avoid em­bar­rass­ment to the gov­ern­ment, as part of I&B min­is­ter Sm­riti Irani’s agenda to cleanse the min­istry of all con­tro­ver­sies.

Ni­ha­lani was con­stantly slammed on so­cial me­dia fol­low­ing his de­ci­sions to beep out words of abuse or pas­sion and for ‘ir­ra­tional’ cuts which in­cluded du­ra­tion of kisses. He banned cuss words and even ob­jected to the word ‘in­ter­course’ in the Shah Rukh Khan film ‘When Harry Met Se­jal’.

Ni­ha­lani’s ouster will give an op­por­tu­nity to the Cen­tre to im­ple­ment the Shyam Bene­gal Com­mit­tee Re­port that sug­gested re­forms on film cer­ti­fi­ca­tion. “The gov­ern­ment is keen on mak­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of films as free of cen­sor­ship as pos­si­ble. With Ni­ha­lani, it was very dif­fi­cult to ne­go­ti­ate. Now the process of re­forms can start,” an of­fi­cial said. Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment in­sid­ers, the film in­dus­try too op­posed Ni­ha­lani strongly. Re­put­ed­film­mak­ers­felthe­had­made film cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process dif­fi­cult.

“His con­stant in­vok­ing of ‘In­dian cul­ture’to­fa­cil­i­tate­his­moralpolic­ing and cen­sor­ing was bring­ing a bad name­tothep­arty,ide­ol­o­gyan­de­vento the gov­ern­ment,” a se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said. Ni­ha­lani was warned sev­eral times by se­nior lead- ers but he did not change his ways, an of­fi­cial said. “Since the CBFC is au­ton­o­mous,theCen­tre­didn’twant­tobe seen med­dling with af­fairs of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. It wants some­one lib­eral who­can­run­the­o­r­gan­i­sa­tion­with­out any con­tro­ver­sies,” an of­fi­cial said

Ni­ha­lani was re­cently crit­i­cised for his de­ci­sion to bleep out words like cow in a doc­u­men­tary on No­bel Lau­re­ate Amartya Sen. Last year, he or­dered 89 cuts for ‘Udta Pun­jab’ which fo­cused on the state’s drug prob­lem. He also asked pro­duc­ers to re­move all ref­er­ences to Pun­jab, elec­tions and po­lit­i­cal par­ties from it. The HC re­stored all ref­er­ences ex­cept one and ad­vised the board “not kill cre­ativ­ity”. The sacked CBFC chief also made a trib­ute video for PM Modi last year and in­sisted film­mak­ers should ex­hibit it prior to screen­ing the movies.

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