Article Hindi

Pahlaj Nihalani: I was aware Julie 2 would get 'A' certificate without cuts

The former CBFC chief said he was confident his film would be passed without cuts as it had been made keeping the board's guidelines in mind.

Photo: Shutterbugs Images

Mayur Lookhar

Julie 2, the film that has created a buzz with its titillating trailer, has been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) without any cuts and given an 'A' certificate. The film had grabbed attention as it is being distributed by recently ousted CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani.

The film producer-distributor had a controversial reign as CBFC chairman as a host of films faced hurdles in getting the board's clearance for exhibition within the country. Now the same ‘sanskari’ (cultured) man is distributing a film that boasts of bold visuals and dialogues.

Nihalani had earlier told the Mumbai Mirror tabloid that he wanted his film to be passed without cuts. And he has been proved right.

'Sanskari' Pahlaj Nihalani does a bold turn with poor Julie 2 trailer

“I asked for an 'A' and I was aware that I will get an 'A' certificate, that too without any cut," Nihalani told "I was aware of the guidelines, and how a film ought to be made. It is a content-based film, the story has value. There is no obscenity or vulgarity or any language problem, then why should there be cuts?”

However, the popular perception is that such content in other films was not passed when Nihalani headed the CBFC. Did he worry about getting a taste of his own medicine at the hands of the Prasoon Joshi-led CBFC?

“Boss, you have just seen the trailer so far," responded Nihalani, "but you haven’t seen the film. You get to see a bare back in many films. We see a woman in beach wear. If you have problem with beach wear, then how will your newspapers function? Newspapers carry lingerie advertisements.

"I have been in the industry for long. I have been visiting the censor board since the 1970s. I know the guidelines by heart. I know whether a shot can be passed. The senior producers have never had a problem with the guidelines. We have never faced problems in the past, so how can we go against the guidelines?"

In hindsight, it is perhaps a blessing in disguise that Nihalani is no longer CBFC chairman. If he were still on the board, questions would be raised if the film had been passed without cuts.

Nihalani disagrees. “Even when I was there, the chairman had no role in clearing a picture," he said. "During my chairmanship, I had released a couple of my films all over India. One of the films was Salaam Mumbai, an Indo-Canadian collaboration. The film was cleared without any cuts. It was given a 'U' certificate.”

But wouldn’t clearing Julie 2 without cuts in Nihalani's regime have raised questions? “I don’t think so,” he insisted, adding that it was never the chairman’s job to watch and clear films. “I wouldn’t have been the person who would have watched the film and cleared it. This is an officer’s job [referring to the committee members] to watch the movie and accordingly give it clearance. The chairman’s role comes in to see why a film has not been cleared and what was the problem in clearing. It is the media that has created the buzz that I was watching each and every movie. I had no role in watching a film.”

Earlier, in an interview with Lehren TV, Nihalani had made some sensational disclosures that it wasn’t him but the Union information and broadcasting ministry that had objected to Udta Punjab (2016). He had also hinted that it was his reservations about Madhur Bhandarkar's Emergency-era film Indu Sarkar (2017) that had upset new I&B minister Smriti Irani.

When reminded about these statements, however, the Julie 2 distributor seemed to be in no mood to rewind the clock. “All that was my past," he said. "Whatever is there on record you can quote that. I’m not going to say anything on that matter. I’m no longer on that hot seat.”

Asked if speaking about the government pressure on Udta Punjab and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) back then would have at least won him public support, Nihalani retorted: "Why should I answer you? Whatever I had to say, I have said before. I cleared the films as per the guidelines. I don’t follow anyone’s instructions. I have done what I wanted to do. Please ask me about Julie 2 now.”

Julie 2 is set to be released on 6 October.