No vendetta against Pahlaj Nihalani, clarifies a CBFC official

Pahlaj Nihalani’s Rangeela Raja faces an uncertain future after it was hauled up by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), popularly known as the censor board.

Refusing to accept any modification to his film, the former CFBC chairman moved the Bombay high court against the 13 changes recommended by the examining committee.

The legal tussle has meant that Nihalani’s film could not be released as per schedule on Friday.

Nihalani told Cinestaan.com that the high court is likely to hear the matter on Monday 19 November. “The vacation bench of the court in Bandra was to hear the matter, but it will now be heard by the high court on 19th,” the producer said.

Nihalani, whose tenure as CBFC chairman was littered with controversies and who was asked to go by the government before his term ended, claimed once again that the board he once headed is targeting his film out of vendetta.

It may be recalled that after his ouster as CBFC chairman, Nihalani had made some sensational disclosures in an interview with the Lehren TV magazine.

However, an official in the CBFC denied any vendetta. “Do you seriously think people like Prasoon Joshi or the information and broadcasting ministry have time for all this?” the official said.

The film’s trailer, which was released a few weeks ago, did have content that could be perceived as innuendo. And Nihalani himself seemed to suggest that the examining committee had demanded cuts on account of the double entendre in the content.

Can a film be censored on such grounds, we asked the official. “Absolutely,” came the response. “If you recall, this double meaning content was first created in the days of [Marathi actor-filmmaker] Dada Kondke. He defended his content saying the double meaning is in your mind. But that didn’t convince CFBC officials then.

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“Coming to Pahlaj Nihalani, his films often have double meaning dialogues. The CBFC is within its rights to censor such content.”

The official underlined that women today are present in the examining committee in good numbers. “We may have as many as three women in an examining committee of four,” the official said. “Now, from a woman’s perspective, how would they react to such content? You have to take into account this element too.”

Returning to the claim of a vendetta against Nihalani, the official just ruled it out. “Most of the times the examining committee does not even know which films it would get to watch,” the official explained. “Sometimes, a filmmaker just turns up at short notice and the committee has to view the film.”

The high court vacation judge had suggested that the producer first exhaust all avenues for redress available to him within the system before moving the court, pointing out that Nihalani could go to the review committee and then to the appellate tribunal. But the ex-CBFC chief has flatly refused.

Rangeela Raja sees Nihalani and Govinda reunite after 25 years. The film has Govinda playing a double role. The film also features three new actresses — Mishika Chourasia, Anupama Agnihotri and Digangana Suryavanshi.

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