June 15, 2021
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Films Still Getting Cuts, But No Noise Anymore Says Ex-CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihalani

"The lobbying was against me and not the CBFC"

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Films Still Getting Cuts, But No Noise Anymore Says Ex-CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihalani
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Films Still Getting Cuts, But No Noise Anymore Says Ex-CBFC Chief Pahlaj Nihalani

Former censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani believes he was removed from the top post because of lobbying – not in favour of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) but against him.

To bolster his argument, Nihalani said no objections were raised now when the board asked directors to make cuts in their films.

"Even after my exit, the functioning of the CBFC is still the same; films are still getting cuts as the guidelines are the same even today. But there is no noise about the number of cuts and no one is calling the CBFC 'sanskari' today," he said, referring to allegations of moral policing that he faced while he held the office.

"The lobbying was against me and not the CBFC," Nihalani told PTI.

The government last month replaced Nihalani with songwriter-adman Prasoon Joshi.

According to the reports, under the chairmanship of Joshi, the makers of "Love Sonia" were asked to make 45 cuts in the film starring Freida Pinto and Richa Chadha. The board reportedly ordered five cuts in Varun Dhawan-starrer "Judwaa 2". Kangana Ranaut's recently-released film, "Simran" got 10 cuts.

"There were a few people who wanted me out of this position and I am happy I am no longer the chief of CBFC. I don't think I have lost anything on being removed from the post. I have come back to films. It is an honourable post," he added.

The producer-distributor said a Hindi film faced more trouble while getting clearance in international markets than in India.

"When a film goes to Dubai, Malaysia or Pakistan, they (the makers) have to cut a lot of things but they don't make noise or talk about it," he said.

"In India, 'Kaabil' got a U/A certificate, he said, but in international markets, it got a 15 plus rating. In London, 'Baahubali' got a 15 plus rating and in India, it had a U/A certificate. I think India is the most liberal country when it comes to censorship," he added.

Nihalani said during his tenure as the CBFC chief, he recommended a rating system according to age brackets, which the government did not consider.

"I had suggested a six-rating system but they did not consider it and because of all the controversies they appointed the Shyam Benegal committee.

"I don't agree with the recommendations made by the Benegal committee. I feel the 1952 Act was better, it's just that we need a rating system in place," he said.

Nihalani added that before he joined the board, there were charges of corruption, delay in certification and problems in clearing English and dubbed films but he worked towards resolving such issues.

"We made it a broker-free environment. I tried to bring in transparency, I tried my best to make things better. The officers used to work till late at night on Saturday and Sunday as well so that there was no delay in certification," he said.

But that was then. Nihalani is now busy promoting "Julie 2", which he is distributing. The film, directed by Deepak Shivdasani and featuring Raai Laxmi in the lead, is slated to be released on October 6.


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