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IIFA organiser reacts to Pahlaj Nihalani's legal notice, Riteish Deshmukh apologises

Despite the apology by Deshmukh, the organisers of the event, Wizcraft, have suggested that there has been no content on the show that warrants a notice.

Our Correspondent

The 18th International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards has left quite the wreckage in its wake. After the controversy over Saif Ali Khan-Varun Dhawan-Karan Johar's refuelling the 'nepotism' debate, the event offended Central Board Of Film Certification chairman Pahlaj Nihalani. Nihalani sent a legal notice to the organisers of the show, Wizcraft, for allegedly defaming him by mocking his name on a public stage.

Nihalani's notice refers to an incident on stage when comedian and host Manish Paul and actor Riteish Deshmukh referred to the CBFC chairman as a 'watchman' during one of their sketches. Nihalani's notice emphasised that this was done in order to stoke opposition to the CBFC chairman, who has already been battling a wide range of controversies during his tenure.

In his notice, Nihalani demanded a withdrawal of these allegedly derogatory remarks and an unconditional apology by the organisers. Nihalani's team pointed out that this was not the first time IIFA had allowed such open parodying of Nihalani. Farhan Akhtar and Shahid Kapoor had put up a similar sketch at the 2016 award show mocking the CBFC chairman.

However, Wizcraft director Sabbas Joseph has denied any such incident. In a quote to Mid-Day tabloid, Sabbas said, "There is no statement or event in the show that warrants any notice. Pahlajji will get a better understanding of the show once he sees it. We have always respected Pahlaji, who has originally been on the IIFA advisory board, and has always been [of tremendous] help. I am sure it is a misunderstanding that will be corrected once Pahlajji sees the show on television again."

Actor Riteish Deshmukh, who was a part of the sketch, however, apologised to the CBFC chairman on NDTV, saying "The segment was about our film industry being a big family and who plays what role in it. Yes, there was a comment on Pahlajji. The entire act was done in good humour but if it has upset him or anyone else, I would like to tender unconditional apology."