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Anurag Kashyap: Pahlaj Nihalani getting back at the courts by refusing certificate

The director goes no-holds-barred against the CBFC head, calling him senile and incapable for trying to ban the Nawazuddin Siddiqui-starrer Haraamkhor, co-produced by Kashyap.

The Cinestaan Team

The Anurag Kashyap-Pahlaj Nihalani battle continues to rage. Speaking to news agencies, the director voiced the futility of battling the censors for the certification of adult films. Kashyap added that it is important that movie-makers be empowered to approach the courts for certification, particularly in the current instance, where the Central Board of Film Certification is chaired by a "senile" and "intellectually incapable" person.

"Give us the power that if we are making an adult film, and we are seeking an adult certificate, we can go straight to the court or straight to the tribunal [Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, FCAT]. Why should we go through the humiliation of going through him [Pahlaj Nihalani, CBFC chairman] and waste time," Kashyap, 43, told Radhika Bhirani of IANS.

The comment comes as the latest salvo in the long-running saga of vitriol between the director and Nihalani. The CBFC had ordered 89 cuts to Udta Punjab, co-produced by Anurag Kashyap, and prevented its certification. The film was eventually released last week after Kashyap and his team moved the Bombay high court for redress.

Now, the CBFC has trained its guns on another Kashyap production, Haraamkhor. The CBFC has deemed the teacher-student romance theme of the film unfit for Indian audiences, as it shows the 'education system in bad light'.

Anurag Kashyap is not taking this lying down. He attributed this battle between filmmakers and the board to the ego of one man. According to IANS, the director said, "He is a very strange man who hates that somebody took his power away. What the court said to the censor board was that 'You can't cut a film and if you have a problem, refuse the censor certificate'. So in four days, he refused certificate to some films randomly... including Haraamkhor and Saat Uchakkey.... His ego is so big that he can't take the fact that someone took his powers away," 

The examining committee, led by Nihalani, had recommended 89 cuts for Udta Punjab. Seeking redress, the filmmakers had appealed to the FCAT, which had reduced the number of cuts to 13.

Speaking about the incident, Kashyap said, "There is no difference left. The same people sit there and the same mindset follows. So, it's a waste of time and energy. Pahlaj-ji dictates terms. 

"He is an ancient mindset. Cinema has grown beyond him. The world of internet has changed the way information flows. People are well informed and they are much more mature... He doesn't understand that cinema has far more responsibility now than just to entertain."

However, Anurag Kashyap does not believe that all hope is lost. The director expressed the hope that the Union information and broadcasting ministry would act upon the recommendations given by the committee led by Shyam Benegal and implement a revised system of certification devoid of censorship. 

The director also expressed joy at the hearty reception of Udta Punjab among audiences. He said, "I am happy that the film has resonated well with the people, especially in Punjab. And when people see the movie, the only thing that I'm happy about is that now they can see what was being cut out. They can imagine what it would have been like [with the CBFC-suggested cuts],"

Well, it remains to be seen how Pahlaj Nihalani reacts to this fiery salvo from Kashyap. Hopefully, Kashyap won't be forced to move the courts again.