It was a celebration of sorts for film aficionados as well as movie buffs across the nation yesterday when news came about that Pahlaj Nihalani was sacked from his position at the Central Bureau of Film Certification (CBFC).
A statement from the government that came out late in the night said Prasoon Joshi has been appointed Chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification "in an honorary capacity from August 11, 2017, for a period of three years or until further orders, whichever is earlier".
Regarding his exit, Pahlaj Nihalani issued a statement saying, "I didn't know about it. When I got the charge back then also I got to know through media and now that someone else has been appointed- this also I am getting to know through media. I have nothing to say and I respect Indian government's orders."
He added, "I am not at all upset with it. 98% of the film industry was happy with my work, it was just 2% that are unhappy. But I wish them all the best. And har kisi ke kaam mein ache aur bure ki pehchaan hoti hai (everyone gets criticized and praised for their work). Let them enjoy and wish all those producers who think I haven't done good job. There has been no direct communication with me at all. Nothing is my hand, it is government's decision. I didn't come here to be permanent. Whatever the responsibilities they gave me, I did it with all sincerity and entirety. My staff has supported me and CBFC became corruption free and online certification also became transparent (under my leadership)."
He further stated, "I have recommended it earlier too that we should have a fixed rating scale. Government hasn't done anything new. If they wanted to do something, they would have listened to my request. I have adopted the rule book that they gave me and the name is Censor Board of Film Certification. My team members and me followed it. Previous members didn't follow it. I have implemented it."
Meanwhile, reputed veteran filmmaker Shyam Benegal gave his opinion on the hopes with Prasoon Joshi's appointment as the new chief of the Central Board of Film Certification. The acclaimed filmmaker headed a government-appointed committee, set up in 2016, to revamp the functioning of the CBFC.
Joshi replaces Pahlaj Nihalani, who was appointed in January 2015, and since then made headlines for a number of controversial moves and statements. When asked if the songwriter-poet's appointment as the new CBFC chief would bring relief to filmmakers, Benegal told, "Prasoon Joshi himself is an artiste. He is a highly rated poet, he also knows media extremely well. He was the head of the best advertising agency of India, he understands mass media, cinema, television, press. So I cannot think of a better choice (than him)."
Filmmakers have often complained of arbitrary objections and cuts sought by the Censor Board. A list of banned "cuss" words, circulated by Ex-CBFC chief had also become a subject of controversy. Following which, in January 2016, the government constituted a committee headed by Benegal to look into the board's functioning and was asked to come up with suggestions. The committee submitted some recommendations to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry related to censorship in films in its first report in April 2016.
The committee also included Kamal Haasan, filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, ad-man Piyush Pandey, film critic Bhawana Somaaya and National Film Development Council managing director Nina Lath Gupta.
We will keep you posted as there are further developments. Stay tuned to iFlicks for more updates.