What did 'Sanskaari' censor board chief do in his tenure?
Ever since appointment of Pahlaj Nihalani as the head of the Central Board of Film Certification in January 2015, he has made headlines for all the wrong reasons. His decisions and comments have embroiled into controversy at numerous times. Infamously called as 'Sanskaari' (sarcastically cultured) chief in the film fraternity, he was finally sacked on Friday and noted lyricist Prasoon Joshi has been made the new chief.
Several in the industry welcomed this decision and were relieved with his exit. He had been a nightmare for filmmakers. Producer-director Mukesh Bhatt had once said that Pahlaj can "only do harm to the industry', Another director Hansal Mehta preferred selling underwear on the streets than use Nihalani for publicity. Swara Bhaskar too, in an open letter, asked the former chief to stop policing and not to sanitize art. Not only the film fraternity but also a member of CBFC, Ashoke Pandit, once called him an 'anarchist'.
Here is what Nihalani did during his two-year tenure as CBFC chairperson
1. In April 2014, he produced a campaign video for BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi titled 'Har Har Modi'.
2. In January 2015, he was appointed as CBFC chief
3. In January 2015, in one of his first interviews he said that certain cuss words will not be tolerated in films. He suggested a list of words that shouldn't be used without a solid context.
4. In October 2015, As a censor board chief he ordered to trim down a kissing scene in the latest James Bond franchise, Spectre, and said it was needed to keep up with the Indian 'sanskaars'. (This is when he was being infamously referred as sanskaari chief)
5. In December 2015, the information and broadcasting ministry questioned the intent behind clearing the trailers of Kya Kool Hain Hum 3 and Mastizaade. Nihalani said it was done to shed the board's 'sanskaari' image.
6. In January 2016, awarded an 'A' certificate to Hansal Mehta's film, Aligarh, for its themes of homosexuality.
7. In June 2016, he refused to certify Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Haraamkhor, a film that was released a year later. The film's theme of an affair between a school teacher and his underage student was deemed 'unacceptable'.
8. Again in June 2016, Pahlaj Nihalani was in the eye of the storm when he sharpened his scissors and suggested 89 cuts in Udta Punjab which dealt with the problem of drug addiction among youth in Punjab. He suggested removing a signboard mentioning Punjab in the movie among other suggestions.
9. In December 2016, he removed dozens of kissing scenes from Ranveer Singh-starrer, Befikre, including a scene witch featured homosexual characters.
10. In July 2017, he refused to certify Lipstick Under My Burkha for being too 'lady-oriented'.
11. In July 2017, he bans smoking and drinking from films. Addressed for the first time rumours of his being sacked. "If now I am asked to leave, I'd do so just as swiftly, wishing my successor all the best."
12. In August 2017, he was sacked as the CBFC chief