In the days following Pahlaj Nihalani’s sacking as chief of the Central Board of Film Certification, the controversial ‘filmmaker’ has been doing the interview rounds at several news channels. Since his dismissal, he has blamed Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Anurag Kashyap and Ekta Kapoor of having a hand in his sacking. The latest name on Nihalani’s hit list is Information & Broadcasting ministry head, Smriti Irani.
In an interview with YouTube channel, Lehren TV, Nihalani said: “At the I&B Ministry, I was their target number 1. It all started when I didn’t clear Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar. She (Irani) gave me a call asking why I hadn’t done so. I said, I was following guidelines and now the film is already with the Tribunal. I told her if she wants she can get it cleared from the Tribunal. I wasn’t massaging her ego and it was only a matter of time before I was thrown out.”
Nihalani went on to allege that he had been ordered by the I&B Ministry to not pass Shahid Kapoor-starrer, Udta Punjab, a film about drug trade in the state. “I’m revealing it for the first time that I & B Ministry told me not to pass the film. There was pressure from many places to not pass it. After that, the revising committee gave it a date, and I passed Udta Punjab but with guidelines,” he said.
He further alleged that he was told not to pass Salman Khan’s Bajrangi Bhaijaan. “I got a call from the ministry to not release the film on Eid because of its title as the ministry thought that the film was about love jihad. But I’d heard the script before and the film’s writer was also writing a film for me at the time. It was an advanced letter. Later, I wrote letters to the ministry asking them to see the film according to the guidelines,” he said.
Nihalani was replaced as CBFC chief by National Award-winning lyricist Prasoon Joshi, about whom he had this to say: “He’s a very nice man and he will have to reap the fruit of my sins and good deeds.”