CBFC has to balance cinematic sensibilities with societal responsibility, says chief Prasoon Joshi

Unlike his immediate predecessor Pahlaj Nihalani, Central Board of Film Certification chairman Prasoon Joshi has enjoyed a largely peaceful tenure so far, notwithstanding the ruckus late last year and early this year around Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat (2018).

Recently, Nihalani’s film Rangeela Raja was pulled up by the CBFC, popularly known as the censor board. And there is director Abhishek Kapoor’s Kedarnath which could find itself in the dock with some Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members calling for a ban as it supposedly promotes what they claim is a love-jihad conspiracy.

Without getting into any specific cases, Joshi underlined the CBFC’s responsibility to take heed of protests by different sections of society while certifying films.

The CBFC chief spoke to Cinestaan.com briefly after his masterclass on ‘Lyrical Imagination Unleashed’ at the 49th International Film Festival of India (IFFI), being held in Goa.

“The CBFC’s job is to strike a balance between cinematic sensibilities and societal responsibility,” Joshi said. “We need to. And there are guidelines for that. When this film [Kedarnath] comes for certification, which it has not yet, those guidelines will be followed. The CBFC tries its best to create that balance and it would try to do its best here too.”

Kedarnath marks the debut of Sara Ali Khan as Saif Ali Khan and ex-wife Amrita Singh’s daughter shares screen space with Sushant Singh Rajput. The makers have announced 7 December as the release date.

During the process of certifying Padmaavat (2018), the CBFC had sought guidance from some members of erstwhile Rajput royal families and scholars on whether the film hurt so-called Rajput pride. A few changes were made, like changing the title from the original Padmavati, but one or two of the royals still had reservations. Joshi gave some thought to their views but eventually cleared the film.

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Joshi was short of time and so could not respond to Nihalani’s claim in an interview to Cinestaan.com that he is being victimized by the CBFC. But a board official had explained that Rangeela Raja was censored on account of double-meaning content. Nihalani has moved the Bombay high court challenging the 13 modifications recommended by the CBFC.

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