Dutch Ther­apy for Nih­lani

Former CBFC Chair­man Pehlaj Ni­ha­lani has hit out at cur­rent CBFC chief Pra­soon Joshi, call­ing him a ‘po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee’ who is act­ing with ‘malafide in­ten­tions’

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Pro­ducer and former Cen­tral Board of Film Cer­ti­fi­ca­tion (CBFC) chair­man Pahlaj Ni­ha­lani has moved the Bom­bay high court af­ter the CBFC or­dered cuts to his up­com­ing film Rangeela Raja. Ni­ha­lani has asked the court to quash the CBFC or­der de­mand­ing cuts and en­sure that his film is granted U or U/A cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, In­dian Ex­press re­ported.

Ni­ha­lani has also hit out and cur­rent CBFC chief Pra­soon Joshi, ac­cord­ing to LiveLaw, call­ing him a “po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee” who is act­ing with “malafide in­ten­tions”. The CBFC wants a di­a­logue that refers to Ram cut, Ni­ha­lani said, be­cause of the up­com­ing 2019 elec­tions, for which a Ram tem­ple in Ay­o­d­hya will be on the elec­tion agenda.

The Rangeela Raja pro­ducer told the Bom­bay high court ac­cord­ing to the sys­tem, if a por­tion or di­a­logue of a film is found to be ob­jec­tion­able, the maker of the film is usu­ally given the op­por­tu­nity to jus­tify his or her stance. This pro­ce­dure was not fol­lowed in his case, Ni­ha­lani said.

He also said that the CBFC was ha­rass­ing him be­cause he had been “very strict” dur­ing his ten­ure as chair­man, In­dian Ex­press re­ported.

“The de­ci­sions of the Re­vis­ing Com­mit­tee are mon­i­tored by the CBFC chair­per­son. I should know be­cause I’ve been there. But the cur­rent chair­per­son (Joshi) is out of the coun­try. This, I be­lieve, is of­ten the case. In his ab­sence, de­ci­sions on mat­ters that the chair­per­son de­cides, are taken by his sub­or­di­nates. This is com­pletely against the guide­lines,” NDTV quoted Ni­ha­lani as say­ing.

Rangeela Raja, slated to re­lease on Novem­ber 16, stars Govinda in a dou­ble role.

Ni­ha­lani was re­moved as CBFC chief in Au­gust 2017, but not be­fore he had made a slew of con­tro­ver­sial de­ci­sions and been ac­cused by film­mak­ers and oth­ers of over­polic­ing con­tent (such as delet­ing the word ‘in­ter­course’ from When Harry Met Se­jal) and pan­der­ing to the Naren­dra Modi gov­ern­ment (such as telling the mak­ers of Dakxin Ch­hara to re­move the phrase ‘mann ki baat‘ be­cause it is the name of the prime min­is­ter’s ra­dio show). In an in­ter­view to The Wire in July 2017, Ni­ha­lani had said that pro­duc­ers at­tack the CBFC only to get pub­lic­ity for their films. “(At­tack­ing) CBFC is a very good for the pub­lic­ity of each and ev­ery film. You me­dia peo­ple blow it out of pro­por­tion and my rep­u­ta­tion is ru­ined,” he had said.

As CBFC chair­per­son, Ni­ha­lani was in­fa­mous for the cuts he de­manded in films. He first asked the mak­ers of Udta Pun­jab to make 89 cuts to the film, which was later brought down to 13. He also used vague cen­sor­ship guide­lines to deny Lip­stick Un­der My Burkha cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

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