Censor chief Pahlaj Nihalani is never out of the storm. The latest controversy has an unnamed source from the CBFC accusing Nihalani of employing the services of those board members to view films whose tenure has expired. In an exclusive interview to Subhash K Jha, Pahlaj Nihalani clears the air.
You are now being accused of using the services of disqualified panels on the advisory board to view films?
Let me make this very clear once and for all. Yes, new board members have been recruited. But they’re yet to report on the job. Services of all the male recruits on the advisory panel whose contracts have ended, have been terminated. We only continue to recruit the movie-viewing services of around 32 former female members of the advisory panel. And that too with the permission of the Ministry Of Information & Broadcasting.
Why are dismissed female members still viewing films?
Because we have for reasons I can’t explain, a difficult time getting female members on the advisory board to come and view films for us. We got a list of new female members just a few days back.
Is this process of firing and hiring advisory members only on in Mumbai?
The media is only reporting on the discontinuation of panel members in Mumbai. But old members on the advisory board have been discontinued all across India and new panel members have been recruited throughout India. The person leaking out the information to the press was ill-informed.
You’ve also been accused by the same unnamed person in the CBFC of calling the shots not only for cuts and certification of films, but also which members should be in the Examining and Revising Committees to view films, and if someone recommends any cuts against your wish, the person isn’t called again. Please comment?
First of all I don’t decide the panel members on the Examining Committee (EC). And I don’t view film with the EC. Constituting the Revising Committee (RC) is my right. Out of the 2,800 films that have so far been cleared during my tenure as chairperson of the CBFC, 2,700 films have been cleared by the EC, which I didn’t have any say in. Out of the 100 films that have gone to the RC I’ve watched only 21 films. I repeat, I’ve the right to constitute members of the RC.
The I & B Ministry is aware of all your decisions?
It’s all done with the approval of the Ministry. How else would we be able to go on being fully functional with all the flak that we’ve been getting? The I &B Ministry is aware of every move within the CBFC. So before calling me names like dictatorial and perverse I suggest people like Anurag Kashyap should check their facts. Incidentally Mr Kashyap was so vocal about the cuts we requested in Udta Punjab. Please ask him how he managed to get away with so much violence and bad language in Raman Raghav.
Would it be correct to say the Ministry approves of the manner in which you function?
It is only the dishonest elements and those who were making money out of producers’ need to get their films certified urgently, who are unhappy with me. I’ve brought in a transparency in the running of the CBFC. This makes some members of CBFC very uncomfortable, helpless and frustrated. I feel sorry for them. But I can’t help them.