A day after Pahlaj Nihalani was removed as the chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), some of his former colleagues supported the move and said the board, having become “synonymous with censorship” under Nihalani’s tenure, can function better now.
“Pahlaj’s arrogance cost him dearly — power of the chair went to his head,” Ashoke Pandit said over phone on Saturday.
Dramatist and comedian S Ve Shekhar, who was a member of the board until Friday evening, said, “Nihalani’s removal is 100-per cent right. He only wanted to control, and he wanted to create his own rules at CBFC.”
Pandit, who had earlier called Nihalani an “anarchist” and on August 2, as chairman of the Indian Film and Television Director’s Association, conducted a press conference to denounce Nihalani’s decision to issue 48 cuts to Kushan Nandy’s yet-to-release film Babumoshai Bandookbaaz, accused the former chief of running CBFC “like his own production office”. He said, “There was no respect for other board members, or producers or filmmakers. He ill-treated us, he was a tyrant.”
Admitting that he was optimistic when Nihalani was appointed CBFC chairman in January 2015, Pandit said, “As somebody from the film industry…we thought it was an opportunity for him to remove the walls between CBFC and the industry.” But Nihalani, he claimed, did exactly the opposite — CBFC became synonymous with censorship, whether it was profanity in Hindi films, or love-making scenes, or if the plot of a film was deemed as “lady-oriented”.
Ve Shekhar said he had so many differences with Nihalani that he began forwarding his letters to I&B Ministry. “His decisions would impact regional films also.”
Actor and former national secretary of BJP Vani Tripathi Tikoo said the new board hopes for a better future for Indian filmmakers. “For me, it was a battle between perception, creativity and filmmakers. The new board has been constituted, and what it really needs is amendment of the draconian, absolutely redundant Cinematograph Act, 1952.”
About new CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi, Pandit said, “He is not arrogant and will engage in a dialogue with filmmakers. A person of power has to be a good listener, and Pahlaj just refused to listen.”