Branded to be a man of innumerable cuts in the film industry, Pahlaj Nihalani has now himself fallen prey to the government’s scissors as the organisation’s chairman much before his scheduled retirement. His successor is famous lyricist-adman Prasoon Joshi, while actors Vidya Balan and Gautami join the board. Other incumbents on the board being theatre artiste Waman Kendre, filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri and author Narendra Kohli.
Known for the arbitrary cuts he ordered in many films, Nihalani had several run-ins, both with film directors and his colleagues. Many filmmakers had complained that RSS-appointed Nihalani acted in a high-handed manner and infringed on their right to freedom of expression and creative pursuit. Nihalani was being accused of treating the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) like his personal fiefdom. His only claim to fame to the Censor Board was the fact that he had termed the PM, Narendra Modi as ‘Action Hero’.
Nihalani had asked for multiple cuts in Madhur Bhandarkar’s “Indu Sarkar” which depicts the Emergency and his refusal to certify “Lipstick Under My Burkha” which explores female sexuality. Nihalani was appointed to head the board in early January 2015 and was entangled in controversy right through his tenure. NIhalani had recently objected to the use of word ‘intercourse’ in the otehrwise superflop SRK- starrer film ‘When Harry met Sejal’.
It was in the last year that Nihalani’s board had ordered 89 cuts and told producers to remove all references to Punjab, elections and political parties in “Udta Punjab”, a film on the state’s drug problem. The high court restored all references save one and advised the board “not kill creativity”. Nihalani was reportedly informed last month by the Ministry of information and broadcasting that he could be replaced. His three-year tenure was to have ended in January.
Nihalani soon turned his attention to the Indian industry with films like “NH10”, “Dum Laga Ke Haisha”, “Aligarh”, “Udta Punjab”, “Haraamkhor”, and “Babumoshai Bandookbaaz” facing his wrath.
Prasoon Joshi, who won the Padma Shri in 2015, is one of the film industry’s leading lyricists and screenwriters. The noted adman-lyricist has twice won the National Award For Best Lyrics for ‘Maa’ in Taare Zameen Par (2008) and ‘Bolo Na’ in Chittagong (2013).
The 45-year-old had written the lyrics for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anthem for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and also has films like Rang De Basanti and Neerja in his repertoire. Hollywood movie “Fifty Shades Of Grey” became the first victim to his ways of censorship. It was not allowed to release in India over its erotic content.