Pahlaj Nihalani sacked as CBFC chief, Prasoon Joshi to replace him
Mumbai: Pahlaj Nihalani, who turned the censor board into a precinct of moral policing, has been sacked as the organisation's chairman. His successor is famous lyricist Prasoon Joshi.
Colleagues of Nihalani had accused him of treating the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) as his personal fiefdom, while film makers and critics accused him of demanding unreasonable cuts and moral policing.
Recent scandals involved a demand for multiple cuts in Madhur Bhandarkar's "Indu Sarkar" which depicts the Emergency and his refusal to certify "Lipstick Under My Burqa" which explores female sexuality. Nihalani had justified the move describing it as "lady-oriented," complaining of sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography (phone sex) and implied the film might offend Muslims.
Director Alankrita Shrivastava won her case after challenging the censor board at an appeals tribunal.
Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed to head the board in January 2015 and was embroiled in controversy right through his tenure. He had recently objected to the word "intercourse" in the Shah Rukh Khan film When Harry Met Sejal, and was also sharply criticised for his decision to bleep words like "cow" and "Hindu India" in a documentary on economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen.
Last year, Nihalani had stirred a hornet's nest by directing 89 cuts and told producers to remove all references to Punjab, elections and political parties in "Udta Punjab," a film on the state's drug problem. The high court restored all references save one and advised the board "not kill creativity".
Nihalani was reportedly informed last month by the Ministry of information and broadcasting that he could be replaced. His three-year tenure was to have ended in January.