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Pahlaj Nihalani Opens Up About Corruption in CBFC, His Objection To Indu Sarkar And More

CNN-News18's Bhupendra Chaubey spoke to Central Board of Film Certification chairman Pahlaj Nihalani regarding the criticism against the board for unreasonable cuts and the controversies emanating from it. Excerpts from the interview…


Updated:July 26, 2017, 5:09 PM IST
Pahlaj Nihalani Opens Up About Corruption in CBFC, His Objection To Indu Sarkar And More
CNN-News18's Bhupendra Chaubey spoke to Central Board of Film Certification chairman Pahlaj Nihalani regarding the criticism against the board for unreasonable cuts and the controversies emanating from it. Excerpts from the interview…
Ever since he was appointed as the chief of Censor Board of Film Certification, Pahlaj Nihalani has been making headlines for his decisions and opinions that have clearly not gone down well with many. CNN-News18's Bhupendra Chaubey spoke to Central Board of Film Certification chairman Pahlaj Nihalani regarding the criticism against the board for unreasonable cuts and the controversies emanating from it. Excerpts from the interview…

You have been a member of the industry, but why are you considered as the biggest threat to them?

Everyone has their own way of doing things. Being a president of the association for 22 years, I have got a chance to interact with almost every filmmaker, whether senior or new, but if something falls out of someone's pocket, the person will have a problem.

Does this mean you take out something from people's pocket?

I am giving you an example of pocket. All the objectionable things from the movie will be removed and obviously, the director of the movie will not appreciate it. Those people who love my work will not object to my decisions. But there are people who will raise objections just to gain popularity. They do these things to create obstacles between me and my work.

You are perceived to hold some grudges against the industry. You've had some issues with Anurag Kashyap and now something is going on between you and Madhur Bhandarkar, who were assumed to be your friends.

When Anurag Kashyap used to meet me for work, he used to tell me that he has grown up watching my movies. But when his work was not done according to him, he got angry. His movie NH10 was passed by me. Whatever is objectionable will obviously be removed.

Is it that the people have not understood the work you do or you have failed to understand the changes which are happening in the Indian society? In the age of Internet don't you think time has come to replace censorship with certification?

From the last 12 years, I have not seen any chairman working in Mumbai, they were used to sit in Chennai or Delhi. Bombay was in the hand of the staffs who took bribes from the producers to give a certificate.

That is a serious allegation you are giving, you are saying all your predecessors were taking money?

You can check the records and I am not putting allegations on anybody, but I am in the industry for so long and have seen them taking money.

If I am making a film do I also have to pay money for censorship certificate?

There were people like Rishi da, Anupam Kher, Asha Parekh who used to sit in the office, devoted their time and had control on people to do the work with honesty and transparency. But if you don't handle the office and become a 'rubber stamp' chairman, the ones who got certificates by paying money will have an advantage. All these things have been happening for a long time. Every producer has gone through everything. The ones who are raising objections have somehow got their films cleared by paying money. There's a recent case in CBI wherein the CEO and middlemen have made money by unlawful means. But today all these things have been eliminated from CBFC. Those producers who make good films have no issues.

This is the serious point you are making that if you wouldn't have been there, then the producers and filmmakers will pay money for the clearance?

Definitely, everyone does that.

Are you targeting Anurag Kashyap too?

Why to name one person, I am not taking any names. There are many producers who paid for early clearance for their films I am industry insider, have often gone to censor board. Nothing is hidden from me. There was no corruption during my days. Everything used to be honest and transparent.

Do you mean to say that because you were being the crusader of corruption, people projected you as the killer of creativity?

Last year out of 2500 films only 125 went to the revising commitee. Even in those 125 many films were part of the conversion category from 'A' to 'UA' certification for television premiere. We only refused 60 films because we don't have an act to recensor films, yet. However, we had already given them certificate for theatrical release. Infact in my tenure only 5 films have not been issued a clearance certificate.

Are you planning to step down from your post?

I have been given a responsibility. I didn't ask for it. Till the time I'm holding the position, I'll do it with utmost honesty and transperency. CBFC has been reformed to its maximum potential under me.

Now that there's a new broadcasting minister, Smriti Irani. Do you feel your critic will have an easy equation with her?

I respect Smriti Irani a lot. She knows me and my work. I've known her long before she joined politics. The fact that she is from our industry makes me even happier for her successes. Nobody should run from their responsibilities. As long as I hold the responsibility for this work, I will do my job and not quit. Today, I can proudly say that CBFC is corruption free, there is a new system of online certification, and nothing is pending.

You are saying there was corruption in the industry. Give me an example - Karan Johar, Anurag Kashyap, Vipul Shah, were they engaged in it too?

Don’t take names. It didn’t happen during my tenure. As an industry person, I am aware about the corrupt practices. Everything was rated - if the director wanted to release the promo he was asked to pay Rs 25,000. But CBFC is now corruption free. Since 1967, I've been associated with censor board. People are seeing my work. The name has changed from censor board to certificate board but people don't know that there are acts that are attached to it. The acts clearly state whatever content will be shown in public needs a certificate. TV industry shows more violence and that kind of violence will not be allowed to show on movies. We are so liberal. Bahubali 2 got U/A certificate but in the UK it got a 15A certificate because of the violence.

TV is meant for family content. There has to be a certain division when it comes to public exhibition on Cinema and on television. Adult content, child labour can't be broadcasted. There is no monitoring system in TV and digital content should also come under the radar of censorship.

Everything is available on the internet. So why is there a need of censorship?

That’s what I'm saying digital content should be reviewed. If an11-year-old child doesn’t know the meaning of something like intercourse, he will Google it. Sex education is meant for children over 13 years of age. You have to understand the law which has been framed by the government. If there's a change in the law, producers should to be ready for that. In India we just have three rating as opposed to six worldwide. Despite that the films we've passed with U/A certificate have got 15A ratings in countries like UK.

In the garb of rating, are you peddling a political agenda? This is your criticism. That you are not just attempting to clean the system. But you are supporting cultural nationalism.

Everyone should have love their own country and culture. Patriotism should be inculcated in every person. Kyunki desh hai toh hum hai, hum hai toh desh hai If we won't ask the youth to love their country, how will they inculcate the same feeling in future generation.

What was your objection to Madhur Bhandarkar's Indu Sarkar?

I’ve seen an emergency. It was a black spot on the democracy. So if you are putting a disclaimer and you haven't taken any names, not Congress not Sanjay Gandhi. We are only removing the content which heads towards the wrong direction. You can't dwindle between reality and fiction- you can't take one name and ignore the other in the name of fiction. And now that the makers have made it a complete fiction, we have passed it with fewer cuts.

Today the media and producers have criticised me, made CBFC a platform for publicity and marketing. So it's only negative that sells in media. However, no one has criticised me from the ministry.

Why did IIFA irk you?

It's a simple thing, they are not promoting real talent or India’s culture. You are just ridiculing your country's board and its chairperson in a foreign land for nothing. They take money from India and are just increasing other country’s TRP and tourism. They are not helping Indian Cinema but instead making money for themselves.

(Get detailed and live results of each and every seat in the Lok Sabha elections and state Assembly elections in Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim to know which candidate/party is leading or trailing and to know who has won and who has lost and by what margin. Our one-of-its-kind Election Analytics Centre lets you don a psephologist’s hat and turn into an election expert. Know interesting facts and trivia about the elections and see our informative graphics. Elections = News18)
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