Article Hindi

CBFC’s former legal advisor Tanu Mehta questions the board's 'haphazard' hiring process

She was speaking at the ongoing LIFFT India Filmotsav in Lonavala. 

Tanu Mehta speaking at the LIFFT India Filmotsav

Keyur Seta

The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has often been accused of hiring people close to those in power as committee members to review films. An RTI [Right To Information] report that came out last year said that not only the current BJP government, but also the previous Congress government is guilty of putting party workers and loyalists in important positions of the CBFC.

Tanu Mehta, the former legal advisor of the CBFC, also raised a question mark on the hiring process of the CBFC during her chat at the ongoing LIFFT India Filmotsav in Lonavala.

“I can only say that we need to be far more professional in choosing people to man in the organisations like the CBFC. Right now our recruitment is so arbitrary and haphazard that I sometimes wonder how do we even function,” she said.

She added that a good corporate spends a lot of energy, time and money to choose the right person in leadership positions. “They are ready to pay lacs because they know when that man or woman comes into position he or she will control crores. Similarly, even when someone is coming to a powerful organization like the CBFC, which is going to shape the future of Indians and the way things are discussed in society, how do you leave it so arbitrary?” she asked.

Mehta highlighted the importance of bodies like the CBFC as far as the recruitment is concerned. “It has to be well thought of. The recruitment policy has to be so well laid out that there cant be any mistakes because it is so powerful as an organisation. It is shaping the industry and society. Then we are faced with the problems we have to face,” she said.

A lot of questions were raised when Rakesh Kumar, an Indian Railway Personnel Service officer, was made the CBFC chief by the Congress led central government in 2014 since he had never worked even as the regional officer of the CBFC. Kumar was later arrested the same year by the CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] for allegedly taking a bribe to provide certification to a film.

The tenure of the previous CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani was also riddled with controversies. The information and broadcasting ministry was accused of favouring him for being a supporter of the current BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] government. When Nihalani was removed last year, he slammed the I&B ministry for pressurising him to not pass films like Udta Punjab (2016) and Bajrangi Bhaijaan (2015) when he was the CBFC chief.

Nihalani had also accused the then newly appointed I&B minister Smriti Irani for allegedly removing him since he didn’t let Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar (2017) pass without cuts. The film showed the horrors of the Emergency imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of the Congress in 1975.

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