The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is a confused organization, says its former chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani, who insists its guidelines do not stipulate that films should not be cut. During his tenure, which was cut short last week, Nihalani had told the makers of “Jab Harry Met Sejal” to remove the word ‘intercourse’ from one of the mini trails of the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer. He then allowed the usage of the same word in Bengali film “Dhanonjoy”. He now says: “I had no problem with the word. ‘Intercourse’ has been allowed in the new Bengali film ‘Dhanonjoy’. No, I am not a prude. But I am pragmatic. I know Shah Rukh Khan’s fans are children. And parents wouldn’t have liked him talking about intercourse in ‘Jab Harry Met Sejal’. “Let me make one thing clear. The CBFC guidelines do not stipulate that films should not be cut. Yet I was pressurized from the top to not cut, only certify. The CBFC is a confused organization. We need progressive guidelines. Without them, we are stuck in a time-warp.” Nihalani has been replaced as CBFC chairperson by writer-adman Prasoon Joshi. Nihalani says he was surprised to read that the same filmmakers whose films he had cleared on priority were rejoicing his ouster. “I can understand Anurag Kashyap feeling happy about my departure from the CBFC. He has been openly campaigning against my tenure as the CBFC chairperson. There is no hidden agenda in his malice. It’s all out in the open. “I believe he has been singing songs after my exit from the CBFC. Glad to bring happiness in his life. But some of the others ‘welcoming the change’ have been telling me on my face that they had no problem with me at the CBFC. And now they say they’re happy to see me go?”
Without taking any names, Nihalani mentioned a recent film in which he had gone out of his way to accommodate the toilet humour. “There were derogatory references to caste and community which I couldn’t allow. The next thing I heard is that the film’s hero had complained to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry about my high-handedness. God bless him and all the others who are celebrating my departure.”
Nihalani’s stint as the chief of the film censor board was full of controversies over cuts, beeps and disclaimers being demanded in movies.