The rift between CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani and a few of his board members has widened. According to reports, Nihalani has approached Union Information & Broadcasting minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and expressed his displeasure at the conduct of some board members.During this discussion, Nihalani is also reported to have sought clarification from the Government over the appearance of some board members on television debates during the time when it was embroiled in some controversial decisions, without seeking the board’s consent.
Sources state that the move comes after the August 5 meeting of the CBFC, held in Mumbai after a gap of a year. At the meeting, members of the board debated with Nihalani on his censorship policies and ideas, which led to him walking out of the discussion. A section of the board is upset with the chief for taking certain “arbitrary decisions” without seeking their prior approval.
The rift in the censor board was first reported in March 2015, when Ashoke Pandit accused chairman Nihalani of being a ‘tyrant’ and creating an ‘anarchic environment’. Another member Chandraprakash Dwivedi voiced discontent over the functioning of the CBFC.
It is said that the Udta Punjab controversy only served to increase the tension between Nihalani and the members. The members felt that the board, which is only responsible for certifying films, was overstepping by imposing censorship. The Udta Punjab controversy had led to outrage in the film industry and the general public too, who vehemently opposed the board’s decision to impose 89 cuts in the film. Reports also indicate that not all members are in favour of the Nihalani’s orders asking all filmmakers to submit their work for certification on a digital cinema package (DCP) format.
Meanwhile, a bill suggesting changes to the Cinematograph Act of 1952 will be introduced in the Parliament this year. It may lead to many changes in the way the CBFC operates.