Some of the biggest guns in the Indian film industry gathered this week to voice their dismay at the way the Central Board of Film Certification was being run under its new chairman, Pahlaj Nihalani, and what they call his “moral policing”.
Since Nihalani took over in January, many filmmakers have had films subjected to arbitrary cuts. He also issued a widely condemned ban on the use of 28 expletives in films. It was reversed after protests from actors and filmmakers.
The meeting, which was held in Mumbai on Monday, was attended by Aamir Khan, Anurag Kashyap, Shabana Azmi, Kiran Rao, Vidya Balan, Deepika Padukone, Siddharth Roy Kapur, Vishal Bhardwaj and Mukesh Bhatt. They met Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, a junior minister in the Information & Broadcasting Ministry, which governs the censor board.
"I have told them that I have listened to their concerns and will take action," Rathore told The National after the meeting. "It's best not to blame any individuals, but to focus on making sure the board functions as a certifying body, not as a censoring body."
The next day, Rathore met four members of the board, but not Nihalani, to discuss the controversy. He said he had decided to conduct a nationwide survey to assess audience opinion on nudity, violence and swearing.
In an interview with Bollywood Hungama, Nihalani said he was doing nothing wrong.
“All I can tell you is that I’ve been working within the ministry’s and board’s guidelines,” he said. “Some people don’t like the fact that I’ve restored discipline and transparency in the workings of the board.”
Board member Vani Tripathi said: “The issue is about the need for regular interaction with the film industry so such problems don’t arise.”