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Pahlaj Nihalani removed as CBFC chief, to be replaced by Prasoon Joshi


Newly elected I&B minister Smriti Irani has sacked the controversial CBFC chief.

The Cinestaan Team

Pahlaj Nihalani has been removed as the Central Board of Film Certification. He will be replaced by lyricist Prasoon Joshi. It marks the end of a controversial two year reign for the former filmmaker. The story first broke on Republic TV Friday evening.

Nihalani has courted controversy from the time he took over as the CBFC chief in 2015. The first, and one of the biggest controversies of his tenure, was the furore over his refusal to certify Abhishek Chaubey's Udta Punjab (2016). After being refused certification by the tribunal, the makers approached the Bombay High Court to have their film cleared. Nihalani recently courted controversy for refusing to certify Alankrita Shrivastava’s Lipstick Under My Burkha (2017). The board had suggested Shrivastava's film was too 'lady oriented' for the public. 

This increasing censorship has earned the CBFC the ire of several filmmakers. More recently, the board ordered the makers of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz to make 48 cuts in order to acquire certification. The matter escalated further when Kushan Nandy, director of the film, alleged that one of the committee members made a gender slur on producer Kiran Shroff. Nandy alleged that a committee member had rebuked Shroff asking her how, being a woman, she could make a film like this. Another committee member had allegedly mocked Shroff saying that she wasn’t a lady since she was wearing jeans.

CBFC allegedly passed sexist remarks on Babumoshai Bandookbaaz producer’s clothing

Commenting on Nihalani’s sacking, Babumoshai Bandookbaaz writer Ghalib Assad Bhopali said, ‘The Pahlaj Nihalani led CBFC had weird way of looking at films, which curtailed the creativity of the filmmaker. I can’t comment whether it is good or bad. I have not seen the news yet, but if Prasoon Joshi is appointed, then I hope he treats the CBFC for what is, a certification board and not a censor board.”

Rumours about Nihalani’s sacking have been doing the rounds since the time Smriti Irani was appointed as the new Union minister for information & broadcasting. Nihalani had earlier dismissed such reports saying that he had not received any communication from the government 

Now that it is official, it is quite easy to say that filmmakers can celebrate Independence Day early. 

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Censorship