Pahalaj Nihalani proved to be the most controversial chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) due to his ‘sanskari’ methods. When Nihalani was finally removed from the post on Thursday evening, there were more people celebrating than mourning. The surprising part is that some of his former colleagues supported the move and said the board, having become synonymous with censorship under Nihalani’s tenure, can function better now, according to a report by The Indian Express.
“Pahlaj’s arrogance cost him dearly — power of the chair went to his head,” Ashoke Pandit told The Indian Express over phone on Saturday. This wasn’t the first time when Pandit had attacked Nihalani. Earlier this month, he had called Nihalani an “anarchist” as chairman of the Indian Film and Television Director’s Association, conducted a press conference to denounce Nihalani’s decision to issue 48 cuts to Kushan Nandy’s yet-to-release film Babumoshai Bandookbaaz.
Pandit had also accused Nihalani of running CBFC like his own production house. “There was no respect for other board members, or producers or filmmakers. He ill-treated us, he was a tyrant,” he had said. However, Pandit had added that he was optimistic when Nihalani was appointed as the chairman in 2015.
“As somebody from the film industry…we thought it was an opportunity for him to remove the walls between CBFC and the industry.” But Nihalani, he claimed, did exactly the opposite — CBFC became synonymous with censorship, whether it was profanity in Hindi films, or love-making scenes, or if the plot of a film was deemed as “lady-oriented,” he had said.
Meanwhile, dramatist and comedian S Ve Shekhar, who was a member of the board until Friday evening, said, “Nihalani’s removal is 100-per cent right. He only wanted to control, and he wanted to create his own rules at CBFC.” Shekhar added that he had many differences with the former CBFC chief. “His decisions would impact regional films also,” he said.