‘Prasoon Joshi is breaking guidelines to please his friends’: Former Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani Lashes Out

‘Prasoon Joshi is breaking guidelines to please his friends’: Former Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani Lashes Out

Pahlaj Nihalani, who had run into trouble with several filmmakers during his tenure, is facing troubles with the current Censor Board
‘Prasoon Joshi is breaking guidelines to please his friends’: Former Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani Lashes Out

When he was the chief of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) or Censor Board, Pahlaj Nihalani had run into several filmmakers who accused him of snipping their movies arbitrarily. His fights with directors like Anurag Kashyap for Udta Punjab and the makers of Lipstick Under by Burkha are legendary. However, in an ironical twist, the shoe is in the other foot now. Pahlaj, as a filmmaker, is in a fight with the current Censor Board and he is in no mood to back off.

His on-release production Rangeela Raja featuring Govinda in a  double role has been  ordered multiple cuts. And Nihalani  isn’t taking it. Blasting the  current censor chief Prasoon Joshi he  says, “This  is  nothing but  personal vendetta. When I  was  the  chairperson (at the CBFC), I left a  lot of people angry and upset with me. Now when my film has been submitted for censoring, they are taking out their frustrations  on me. But I  won’t go down without a fight.”

Nihalani who claims to have followed  all the  guidelines  as the censor chief, accuses Joshi of bending rules to please friends.  “Everybody knows  about Prasoon   Joshi’s enduring friendship with Aamir Khan. No one is surprised  that Thugs Of Hindostan (starring Aamir Khan) was  given an all-clear censor certification out of turn while my film Rangeela Raja which  was submitted  well in time  60 days ahead  of  release, has been slapped with  multiple cuts which I am not taking. No sir!” Nihalani says a new  impromptu rule has been added to the censor guidelines to please  influential  producers and give them undue priority  for censoring.  “A producer can now  submit an affidavit where he takes an undertaking  that he needs a censor certificate  in a hurry, breaking the 60-day rule.”

Nihalani says this new additional rule is bogus. “How can the  CBFC follow up whether a film actually releases  on the day given on the affidavit? This  is  done only to accommodate  handpicked producers whereas I am being harassed because I’ve a history with the  CBFC.”

Nihalani  says the  cuts ordered  in his film are absurd. “There is no vulgarity or no double meaning  dialogues. Still I’ve been asked to delete a massive number of  dialogues and scenes. In one sequence my heroine asks my hero what he’d like as  guru dakshina. He says Eklavya cut his thumb and gave it to his guru, to which she tells the hero he can cut her lips. There is no kiss. Only a  suggestion of a kiss. Still I’ve been asked  to cut out this harmless playful scene. Why? Movies like Anurag Kashyap’s Manmarziyan are  filled with  kissing and  lovemaking  scenes and yet passed with a ‘UA.”

Nihalani says his film is  being made a scapegoat by the CBFC and he is all set for a legal battle. “Prasoon Joshi  is  breaking guidelines  to  please  his friends. But he can’t bully me  into cutting harmless scenes just because I  was once in his chair and favouring no one. I am going to court to  fight this  out. I will see Mr Joshi in court.”

I tried to get in touch with Prasoon Joshi . But he  chose  not to reply.