The change of guard at the CBFC may make it less of a censor, more of a certifying authority.
The recent change of guard at the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has brought with it welcome change in thinking, too. Filmaker Pahlaj Nihalani, who was sacked as the CBFC chairperson last week, had become the bête noire for almost all, from film producers to viewers and even his fellow CBFC-members. While the film-makers and viewers had both rallied against the CBFC censoring films and ordering what has been monikered as “sanskaari” cuts—any representation of sexuality (more so, female sexuality), cuss words in dialogues, etc—a few CBFC members had even complained to the information and broadcasting ministry about Nihalani allegedly effectively gagging them in meetings. The short point is that the CBFC has gained considerable infamy over the last couple of years, and many trace this back to Nihalani’s office.
New chairperson, adman and lyricist Prasoon Joshi, has however set the right tenor, though against a backdrop that perhaps demanded a more considered response. After being criticised on social media fora for missing his first day in office as the CBFC chair—Joshi has since clarified that he was unwell—he outlined what can be expected from his being at the helm. In response to the ‘trolling’, Joshi released a statement saying that he saw the role of the chair and the Board in general as that of a guide for the institution rather than hands-on micromanagers.
Joshi, who has maintained in the past that the CBFC’s role was to certify films rather than censor them, should find an ally in Vani Tripathi Tikoo, a current member of the Board. Tikoo , too, has endorsed a certifying-authority role for the CBFC instead of it playing the censor. With more women members on the Board this time, portrayal of women and gender issues will perhaps get a more sensitive handling by the Board.