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'Our country is so great that anti-India film like Haider also gets a national award'

Interview: Piyajaj Nihalani's two and a half year term as the chairman of the censor board has been in many disputes. Talk to them ...


Interview: Piyajaj Nihalani's two and a half year term as the chairman of the censor board has been in many disputes. Talk to them

Priyanka Sinha Jha
During his two-year tenure as Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) or the Censor Board, Prajay Nihalani has remained in disputes for some reason. Demanding a cut in his film, often lodging objections on small issues (recently he objected to the word "intercourse" in the film trailer), Prime Minister Modi's generous compliment, making a short film in his honor There were those who criticized them.

He was called 'highly cult', a person who is rather narrow minded instead of changing over time. Speaking to The Wire, Nihalani told about some decisions for himself, and also said that the Indian censor board is more generous than many countries.

The CBFC Chairman has been as a two and a half years. How do they see?

At first I would say that this transparency is better. There is no earlier corruption.

What kind of corruption?

If you remember then a CBI inquiry has already been done against former CEO CBFC Rakesh Kumar. It was believed that there can not be any work here without bribe. The earlier corruption is no longer. As a producer, I have also experienced this.

So there is a change over time?

I am coming to CBFC from 1967, first came as a distributor, then as a producer. I have produced 34 films and have distributed 153, so I know the problems. Without money, the picture was not passed. I knew what was going on here first, so it was easy to change.

Making money in the wrong way today, deliberately late in the film has stopped. I'm proud that the same old staff is working very differently for me. Today the CBFC's corporate environment is completely different from the earlier fish market environment.

But the CBFC is now in dispute over its narrow stance that what viewers should not see. The recent case of the film is Harry Mate Sejal, where you wanted to remove the term 'Intercourse' from the movie's mini trailer. What is the problem with this word?

The first thing is that I have no problem. We just said that these words can not be shown on TV. I believe these words are given in school books, but in senior class, when children are 13-14 years old.

If you are certifying content for children under 12, then you have to take care of the rules. We gave the U / A certificate to Bahubali due to bloodshed.

In the UK there is 15A i.e. for more than 15 years. There, he also removes words like those with sexual references and Bastard. This is true of countries like Britain, Malaysia, Australia and Pakistan. They do not allow such language or violence in Hollywood movies too. There is also no blood to show, which we show.

The makers who have trouble with us here are happy to obey the rules of those countries and release films there. This is hypocrisy.

The board did not pass the film Lipstick under my burqa saying this because it is a feminist concept, where some women are searching for their sexual identity.

This is a fake charge. NH10 did not even get approval in the first round. Then they went to the CBFC's Revising Committee and then the film was passed. Many movies are denied to be certified in the first round. Many times they are very cut in them, sometimes they go to the Reviving Committee, sometimes near the Film Tribunal.

But if I had given the certificate to Lipstick under my hair, then even Jha should have challenged it. They have to fight for their rights. And there is no harm in it, but why CBFC has such negative publicity?

Whether it is Anurag Kashyap, Prakash Jha or Mukesh Bhatt, they all have a lot of time to release their film. Their marketing plan is that we will go to the censor board without first having any release date. After that we will claim that the film has been refused certificate. All this happens under a marketing plan for the media. I am from the Film Industry and know how they are using the media.

All the films that have come during my tenure have passed, but every film has its own story. Both Mastizade and Kya Hool Hum, we had seen five to six times before passing the films, but there was no attack on them. Some people use CBFC cuts for publicity, they do not do anything.

And as far as the new poster showing the lipstick under my shoulder's middle finger, it has not been granted permission from the publicity committee so far, but it is in front of everyone. This is negative publicity.

You had many problems with Flyta Punjab and then the film got leaked as soon as the sensor certificate was received.

The film was leaked near 11 o'clock in the day and by the evening, I had the full CCTV footage of the CBFC's office. CCTV cameras have been installed in each of the CBFC's rooms, all of which are recorded. The film did not leak from our side.

This is also the way of marketing. Anurag Kashyap leverages his movies with his own people. They want to commute that this is my original picture. Attacking CBFC is very good for any movie's publicity. Then you publicize it over the media and my image gets worse.

Let me proof that such a movie has been successful at the box office. On the contrary, the industry has lost money. Anurag Kashyap and the films he used to be- Bombay Velvet, Haramazade or Dog, whatever their name - whoever invested in them, has taken the loss.

Indian traditions are changing, are you able to reconcile with these changes? Should not you make your point of view a little more liberal?

We are modern but are not dyed in western colors. The work I am doing is more liberal than many western countries. How many Liberal can we be?

I give you an example of Bahubali 2 - the content of this movie was good. Had he had publicized his film on the basis of the cuts he had made, it would hardly have succeeded without good content. The second example is Haider. Then I was not the chairman of the censor board. Our country is so great that anti-India film like Haider also gets a national award. And how much should we be liberal?

Has the CBFC's responsibilities changed with the change of industry?

There is no problem with big films. There was no cut in the tragedy, there was no cut in Bajrangi Bhaiyan, even Jolly LLB 2 was also fine - since these films were a cartroom drama, there were some technical issues but it was fine on the scale of the obscenity.

Difficult it is in art and film festival type films, which are based on different topics, regional backgrounds, stories and true events. They show them without permission (censor certificate) in film festivals, but difficult it comes at the time of the theatrical release.

There are three categories to give us the ratings of films: U, U / A and A. If a film does not fit in any of these three then either it has to be rejected or partially cut.

Only negative news about media films is printed, because if there is a good news, then you have to contract with MediaNet, where you have to pay 50 lakh for 3-4 articles.

If you have to print something free, then you should have 'wrong' news: some romance, some negative news gives you free publicity. Print, digital or television media, no one does not work for any untoward news, so the CBFC cut has become so popular.

Today the CBFC has become a publicity platform for such producers, who do not have a large starcast, about which they can start a discussion or whose films are barely getting a buyer.

The CBFC will remain in the news even if there are any presidents or it is going on anyway. 82 per cent of films are held without any cuts but they do not want to talk about them.

What kind of changes have you made in CBFC's procedures?

In Mumbai alone, hundreds of certificates are issued for promos and photographs in one day. We have ended intermediaries completely. If a movie is halted, we pay full attention to it. Once we see a movie, then the producer knows the position of his film.

This is exactly the process of making a passport or a visa. We have found this from the dream of the Prime Minister of Digital India. Now the manufacturer has to come and take his certificate, we have to show the corrected version.

You seem quite impressed with the Prime Minister.

From childhood, I liked to see leaders. Then whenever Jawaharlal Nehru used to come to our cities, barricades of wood on either side of the roads were used and we all would wait for their arrival.

Jawaharlal Nehru and Lal Bahadur Shastri were also exceptional leaders. After that we have seen Atal Bihari Vajpayee for some time, along with LK Advani and Narendra Modi.

Modiji is a very simple person and he forgets his work in whatever work he does. His emotions are of a leader. He sacrificed everything for the service of the country, which I think is praiseworthy.

Firstly, the reputed people used to shake hands, but the Prime Minister taught people to embrace hugs, which is an Indian way of greeting.

In the 80-90s, as a producer, you made many films full of bilateral dialogues.

Like trends in balbottom and tight pants, such trends keep coming and going. But I am going to start three new films soon. I am always a producer and I will be with heart.

How do we see ourselves, cultured, progressive or conservative?

I highly respect Indian feelings and family relationships like spouse, brother-sister, father-son. My wife is the president of the Maharashtra Equestrian Association (Horsemen). In Furts we spend time with our 18 horses in our farmhouse.

I have three sons and I have never forced them for any work. I have three grandchildren, three are the ones who are from three different communities - French, Marwari and Punjabi. They are like my daughters. When we discuss everything, how can it be said that I am conservative or backward? We are a 'happy family' - a joint family. Thank you the wire

(Priyanka Sinha is the editor of 'Screen' Editor and author of 'SuperTrat's Superstars'.)
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