Pahlaj Nihalani’s Explosive Revelation: “Smriti Irani Got Vindictive And Sacked Me When I Refused To Certify Indu Sarkar”
Former CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihlani is far from done with his tenure. In what could be considered his most explosive interview to date, Nihalani reveals to this writer that the newly-appointed I & B Minister Smriti Iranisacked him after he refused comply with her wishes.
“She got vindictive because I refused to certify Indu Sarkar. She wanted me to certify Madhur Bhandarkar’s Indu Sarkar without cuts after the Examining Committee of the CBFC thought it right to ask for several cuts because the film attacked individual politicians and political parties. Rather than take the film to the
Committee or the Tribunal Bhandarkar took it to Smritiji who ordered me to pass the film without any cuts,” reveals Nihalani.
He says he refused to comply. “I couldn’t do what she asked. Because she was basically asking me to make a mockery of the CBFC. I refused to do the needful.If I had let the film go with no cuts it would have been a violation of the CBFC’s guidelines. The next thing I know I was given marching orders.”
Nihalani claims he was punished for doing his job. “All these allegations and charges against me are nothing but vicious attempts to pull me down when I am not in power at at the CBFC. It is being said that I refused to certify the Malayalam film Ka Bodyscapes. But it wasn’t my decision . 25 out of 29 censorboard members voted against the film being certified.”
Nihalani says nothing his detractors say or do will make him change his mind. “I stand by every decision that I made during my tenure as the chairperson of the CBFC. My decisions may have been unpopular. But they were not wrong. If I was given another chance to consider a censor certification for Ka Bodyscapes I would still refuse. The film shows Lord Hanuman as gay. You tell me, who will guarantee the safety of common people if and when riots break out on the streets for showing a beloved God as gay? It’s all very fine to be liberal. But one has to keep the sensitivities of the people in mind every moment while certifying films.”
Nihalani scoffs at Smriti Irani’s claims of being an experienced member of the film industry. “What experience does she have of the film industry? Before she became a minister she was part of the television industry. I have been a part of the Indian film industry for 55 years. I know how a producer thinks and I also know how the audience reacts to matters of religion . Show Hanuman as gay, and see what happens.”