New Delhi: Union minister Smriti Irani today said the government views agencies like the censor board “as facilitators” within the ambit of law. She also said she never spoke about former Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Pahlaj Nihalani because irrespective of the kind of cinema he makes, he is a senior member of the film fraternity.
The government recently replaced Nihalani with songwriter Prasoon Joshi as the censor board chief. Since his appointment as the head of CBFC in January 2015, Nihalani had made headlines for a number of controversial moves and statements. “We have had an unwritten rule, that irrespective of their kind of work we have always given respect to people who are senior or chronologically older than us…,” Irani said in conversation with filmmaker Karan Johar at the India Economic Summit here.
“I have never spoken about Mr Nihalani in public and I have chosen not to do so because irrespective of the kind of cinema he makes, he has a seniority,” the Information & Broadcasting minister said. “The only issue is that the government foresees an agency (CBFC) to be a facilitator within the ambit of law and that is all that we are interested in,” she added. Besides, sharing his experiences and problems faced as a filmmaker, Johar said, “When the crisis happened during ‘My Name is Khan’ it is something that I will never forget. Mr (Narendra) Modi was CM (chief minister) of Gujarat at that time.
“I called him because the problem was penetrating to Gujarat from Maharashtra. We got in touch with him and in 10 minutes the problem was sorted and that gives us as an industry a lot of hope”. In a candid conversation with Johar, Irani touched upon the subject of nepotism surrounding the director. “I will say this as an actor, you (Johar) are in the news for the wrong reasons of late nepotism and all,” she said.
Recalling her past experience with him as an actor, the minister said that Johar sees everyone with respect. “I have seen you as a filmmaker even when I was a nobody. I had a huge amount of respect for you because you treated every person who walked up to you with dignity irrespective of whom their parents were, and I think that is what we need to set right about the industry, that the industry is not about nepotism, we are about talent.
“It is the Shah Rukh Khans that actually tell the world that we are about talent. It is about people like Ekta (Kapoor). I have seen scores of people line up from villages at her doorstep… that is what we are about, that is what you (Karan) are about also but you don’t tell anybody that. You like to take some very serious fights out in the open”. Asked about the protests in Rajasthan against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus “Padmavati”, the minister told Johar: “I am absolutely sure that the law and order situation will be under control there and state government will ensure that there are no miscreants to disrupt any kind of interaction or discipline and I will also say this that we have a very watchful media so be rest assured”.