OOP Digital Desk: Film producer Pahlaj Nihalani, who was embroiled in several controversies ever since he was appointed the chairman of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), has been sacked by the government.
Eminent lyricist Prasoon Joshi has been named his successor, while actress Vidya Balan has joined the board.
Colleagues of Pahlaj Nihalani had accused him of treating CBFC life his personal fiefdom. Filmmakers accused him of moral policing and demanding untenable cuts.
Recent controversies involving Pahlaj Nihalani included the demand for cuts in Indu Sarkar, a film by Madhur Bhandarkar, on the Emergency. He also refused to grant a screening certificate to Lipstick Under My Burqa, starring Ratna Pathak Shah and Konkona Sen Sharma in major roles. The film explores female sexuality in the Indian society. One of the CBFC members had described the film as “lady-oriented” and complained of abusive words, intimate scenes, and audio pornography. The film, CBFC said, could offend Muslims. The film appeals tribunal cleared all hurdles to its release after director Alankrita Shrivastava challenged the CBFC decision.
Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed as the censor board chief in January 2015. Controversy dogged him all along his tenure. He recently objected to using the word “intercourse” in Imitiaz Ali’s film When Harry Met Sejal that has Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma in key roles. He was heavily criticised to beep words like “Hindu India” and “cow” in a documentary on Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.
Nihalani’s board had demanded a whooping 89 cuts to Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab. The producers of the film were asked to delete all references to Punjab, political parties, elections, and the state’s drug problems. The Bombay High Court cleared the film with only one cut and advised CBFC “not kill creativity.”
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