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Posted at: Aug 13, 2017, 12:46 AM; last updated: Aug 13, 2017, 12:47 AM (IST)

Snip shot

Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani is history while lyricist Prasoon Joshi takes over the mantle. So, will it be a relief to the creative lot out there? Only time will tell...

Manpriya Singh

And he said cut…cut and cut…out and loud. During his two-year tenure sitting in the chair as the Censor Board Chief, Pahlaj Nihalani perhaps said the word cut with more enthusiasm and frequency than any fastidious director would while on the movie sets. 

So, finally, the sanskari chief is out. For the uninitiated…well, there is no one uninitiated. Udta Punjab, Spectre, Phillauri, Indu Sarkar, An Insignificant Man, Lipstick Under My Burkha, An Argumentative Indian came, they collided and they crashed (at least creatively) against the wall of moral policing by Pahlaj Nihalani. Bolywood has already said bygones! 

All eyes turn to Prasoon Joshi and expectantly so! 

Who is Prasoon Joshi?  

A lyricist, an ad-man, a Padma Shri, Prasoon Joshi has made a name for himself in the field of arts, advertising and literature, having won several awards for giving lyrics to films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Taare Zameen Par and Chittagong. Meanwhile, actor Vidya Balan too joins the board!

Filmmaker Ashoke Pandit has expressed his confidence in Joshi’s ability, saying that the Shyam Benegal committee’s report will soon be considered. “We all respect him a lot and as a writer, as a thinker, he identifies with today’s cinema…I’m very confident and sure the Shyam Benegal committee’s report will very soon come into force.”

Actress Kirti Kulhari’s last film Indu Sarkar was among the latest films to have received a slew of cuts by Nihalani. “Although the 16 cuts came down to only a couple, I really don’t think in the overall film those cuts were necessary.” Little wonder, the actress sees Prasoon Joshi as a welcome change. “It’s a very fresh take on who should be heading an organisation like Censor Board. Considering he is a creative person himself, I am looking forward to his ideas of censorship.” She adds, “I am also excited about Vidya Balan joining the board.”

It might have been a forgettable movie but Machine, directed by Abbas Mustan, had a few run-ins too with the board and its chief. Mustafa Burmawala, Abbas’s son, refuses to comment on any individual but feels, “Somewhere cinema should reflect our society. There is no point wearing rose-tinted glasses…from what I gauge, CBFC is a certification board, passing an age-limit certificate. Censorship shouldn’t be a priority.” 

Madhureeta Anand, a prolific independent film maker, feels it’s a positive step. “Prasoon Joshi has been an integral part of good cinema. He is quite progressive and a few other members of CBFC have also been changed, which is good. My only misgiving is the political environment, which we are in — how films indirectly become a part of that environment either during promotions or during making. That needs to be spotted and stopped.” 

Saba Dewan, documentary film maker known for films on sexuality, gender, identity, communalism and culture, doesn’t mince words when she says, “Former chief’s era was so bad that he was an embarrassment for people who appointed him. Anyone replacing him will be an improvement. But the fundmenetal issue here is not of replacement but of the censor laws, which are redundant. The laws need to revisited.” 

Controversies & more

No strangers to controversies… are we? It was only in mid-January of 2015 that Pahlaj Nihalani took over as the Chairman of CBFC and in March, Fifty Shades of Grey was not allowed to hit screens despite more than 50 cuts. During his two-year tenure, many screenwriters, producers, directors and even the audiences were annoyed with his controversial regulations. 

  • Nihalani asked to remove Punjab from the title Udta Punjab. He demanded 89 cuts, which included dialogues, scenes and cuss words, thereby receiving flak from director Anurag Kashyap. Nihalani famously alleged, “I’ve heard Anurag Kashyap has taken money from AAP to show Punjab in a bad light.” After a month-long furore and a court battle, the film is finally passed with only one cut. 
  • Who can forget this? Nihalani asked a news organisation to get one lakh votes (from married people and those above 35) before un-censoring the word ‘intercourse’ from the trailer of Imtiaz Ali’s Jab Harry Met Sejal. 
  • If it wasn’t for appeals tribunal, director Alankrita Srivastava might have been denied certification for her directorial Lipstick Under My Burkha. Nihalani called the film ‘lady-oriented’ and denied certification and said that the movie might offend Muslims. 
Cut…cut… cut

  • ‘A’ certificate to Anushka Sharma’s NH10 after nine cuts.
  • Muted the word ‘lesbian’ in Yash Raj films’ Dum Laga Ke Haisha.
  • Kissing scenes in Spectre slashed because length of kisses was ‘too excessive’.
  • Censor Board was criticised for passing obscene trailers of Kya Kool Hai Hum 3 and Mastizaade.
  • Gave ‘A’ certificate to Aligarh trailer because the film explores the theme of homosexuality.

‘Good intent is the best beginning’ 

Newly appointed censor board chief Prasoon Joshi hopes to carry out his responsibilities in a constructive manner and make a “positive difference”. “Good intent is the best beginning. Bearing responsibility and doing my best has been my endeavour. I have believed that right and responsibilities are better served with constructive contribution,” Joshi shared.  “One hopes to make a positive difference with the guidance and support of respected minds,” he added. PTI

Here is the list of new members of the reconstituted board:

  • Gautami Tadimalla
  • Narendra Kohli
  • Naresh Chandra Lal
  • Neil Herbert Nongkynrih
  • Vivek Agnihotri
  • Waman Kendre
  • Vidya Balan
  • T.S. Nagabharana
  • Ramesh Patange
  • Vani Tripati Tikoo
  • Jeevitha Rajasekhar
  • Mihir Bhuta


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