Rajyavardhan Rathore Made Me Look Like The Sanskaari Villain: Pahlaj Nihalani 

Pahlaj Nihalani  Hits  out At All Those In Power Who Aimed Their Guns From His Shoulder

Pahlaj Nihalani is one angry man. It’s not so  much his exit as the chairperson  of the Central Board  Of Film Certification(CBFC) that has hurt him. It’s the gleeful celebration within the film industry at his departure that has angered and saddened him. In a no-holds-barred interview Nihalani tells it to Subhash K Jha  like it is. Here is the former censor chief, uncensored.

How does it feel to be  out of power?

I was never power-hungry. Anurag Kashyap has said somewhere that I derived pleasure in humiliating filmmakers who came to the CBFC  to get their film certified. That I’d make them stand for hours while I lectured them. Would Kashyap like to prove what he’s saying? Or does he think he can scare me by  his bullying tactics that he is well-known for?

I can’t answer for Mr Kashyap. But apparently his films are highly regarded?

Oh , really? Is that why no major actor wants to work with him?Do you know how much money his films have lost ? The number runs in multiple crores.And still he continues to  behave as if he is the spokesperson of all the disgruntled elements in the film industry. He should concentrate  on his problems. Not the problems that he claims filmmakers had in dealing with me when I  was the CBFCchairperson.

He isn’t the only one. So many other filmmakers have spoken up about your highhandedness?

Who are these filmmakers? Hansal Mehta? Mukesh Bhatt? PrakashJha? Mukesh Bhatt? Ekta Kapoor? Tell me,which film of theirs  has been  a success?  For years Ekta Kapoor has been  spreading twisted perverse values in Indian soaps. Now she is doing the same  on the web.Some  people never change. And they want the rational elements  in society to also become degenerate.

Still, no matter what  you say the fact is, your job was to certify, not cut films?

Who told you that? Please show me one smattering of directive from the Government saying I  was supposed to only certify and not cut. That’s a completely wrong perception. The very reason for the existence  of the censor board is to make changes , modify and yes, cut when necessary. This was the instruction  given to me .And yet when I did  my job I was labeled a sanskaari censor chief, an arrogant, high-handed autocratic scissors-happy madman.

Does it hurt you that no spokesperson of the BJP came forward to defend  you?

Neither of the two ministers of Information & Broadcasting Shri ArunJaitley or Shri  Venkaiah Naidu ever made their displeasure clear to me. I  was given to understand I was going about it the right way. Even Rajyavardhan Rathore(Minister Of State  For Information  & Broadcasting) approved  of my way of working.And yet he would project a completely different image when he met stars and  filmmakers.He made me look like the sanskaari villain.

 Even your own board members were against you?

Two of  them Ashok Pandit and Chandraprakash Diwedi campaigned relentlessly against CBFC’s interests. I had repeatedly complained to the I & B ministry about them. But no action was taken against them.It seems the I & B ministry wanted their cuts and at the same time  wanted to project a liberal image.

Are  you unhappy to lose the CBFC’s  chairmanship?

Not at all.I did my best. And now my successor Prasoon Joshi is already being criticized by the same people who relentlessly  pursued me and hounded me out of the  job.  The poor chap hasn’t even started  yet. Let me warn him. He has an uphill task ahead.

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