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
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.