Bollywood Reacts To Pahlaj Nihalani Sacking!

After much speculation, the decision has been taken and is already being lauded by the film fraternity. Pahlaj Nihalani, who served the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) as its chairman since January 2015, has been removed from the post and noted lyricist and adman Prasoon Joshi has taken the new role w.e.f August 11, 2017.

“Bearing responsibility and doing my best has been my endeavour. I have believed that right and responsibilities are better served with constructive contribution. One hopes to make a positive difference with the guidance and support of respected minds. Good intent is the best beginning,” Joshi said in a statement.

Veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal, who led a committee and submitted a report last year on CBFC revamp, tells us, “[A change] was about time, and Prasoon is hugely talented, heading one of the best ad agencies in India. He knows the media extremely well, so they couldn’t have chosen anyone better than him.” Many believe that the change of guard at the CBFC, informally called the Censor Board, was accelerated after the Benegal Committee report. Benegal says that the ministry is yet to respond to his report, but he’s happy with the current decision.

Other fresh appointments in the reconstituted CBFC are actor Vidya Balan and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri, who are now board members.

While the move by the Information & Board Ministry, headed by Smriti Irani, might appear sudden, a change had been anticipated. Nihalani has had several run-ins with filmmakers over scene cuts and disputes over giving a certification. He still had a few months left of his term as chairman.

CBFC board member Ashoke Pandit says, “The arrogance of power and disrespect towards filmmaker has brought him to this level. There was too much poison being spread in the board, and I salute Smriti Irani for taking the right decision.” All praise for the new chairman, Pandit adds, “Joshi is the perfect choice, as he identifies with today’s filmmakers and cinema. He’s an intellectual and has contributed so much to Hindi cinema.”

Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar, who was rumoured to be one of the frontrunners for the post in case Nihalani was ousted, says, “Prasoon understands cinematic values and the liberty that filmmakers take. He is someone with a great perspective.”

Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha says, “Pahlajji got into the chair too late and got out of it too late as well. He should’ve served the CBFC in his early thirties.” He adds, “Prasoon is an intelligent, progressive man who’s in touch with today’s India. It’s a very sensitive chair now and needs seriously precarious balancing acts. I’m hoping he’d deal with that.”

Filmmaker Tigmanshu Dhulia shares, “It’s art for art’s sake, I guess — so, definitely the right decision. I wish Prasoon all the luck, and hope his judgment favours art and he remains an artist.”

There are some who feel that no matter who takes over the CBFC chief’s post, things will only get better once the Cinematograph Act 1952 undergoes a change. Filmmaker Ruchi Narain believes that it’s the idea and the system in practice that’s flawed. “Prasoon is a very forward-thinking person, but I feel the ultimate victory will be when we start certifying films and stop censoring them,” she says.

Vani Tripathi Tikoo, one of the oldest members of the CBFC board, says, “We are really not a Censor Board; it’s a terrible term to use — the British used it in 1930. We’re a board of certification and have no business to delete, add, beep out, or blur anything in a film. The ministry has been very proactive in understanding things, otherwise the Shyam Benegal Committee wouldn’t have been formed. It was an intention to understand the problems of certification.”