Controversial chairperson of the Central Board For Film Certification(CBFC) Pahlaj Nihlani has been sacked in favour of lyricist and writer Prasoon Joshi today. Nihalani’s term was supposed to end January 2018, but the amount of controversy he raked up with his archaic take on creativity and clear political leanings seemed to have reached a head with the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.
Reportedly, he had been informed of his impending removal several months in advance, and filmmakers like Prakash Jha and Madhur Bhandarkar, as well as producer Chandraprakash Dwivedi were discussed as possible replacements, besides Joshi. The ministry’s decision has been welcomes by the industry, with veteran actor Raza Murad calling the high-handedness with which Nahlani treated producers “suffocating”.
Filmmaker Sajid Khan also added that Nahlani’s narrow perspective turned even ordinary movies into adult films, and out-of-the-box films had consistently struggled to get certified in time. The movie ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ was rejected by the CBFC on basis of the film being ‘lady-oriented’ in a shocking display of sexism even after it had won several awards on the international circuit for its radical content. It took the intervention of Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), and A certificate and 27 cuts to finally get the film to the theatres.
The appointment of Nahlani to CBFC chair was always controversial, and was reportedly done at the insistence of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh(RSS), the parent ideological body of the BJP. Nahlani had come under fire for his excessive political posturing – he even went so far as to call Narendra Modi his “action hero”. The unpopularity of the CBFC chief had soared in his two years in office, and the appointment of Joshi, a respected creative figure with no political baggage, will be a welcome relief for the film industry.