For those of you who don’t know who he is, Pahlaj Nihlani is the current Chairman for the Central Board Of Film Certification in India. This man gets to decide what we can watch, as a country, when we head to the movies or nestle in our lazy chairs at home in front of the idiot box. And he’s serious about his sanskaars. So serious that in a country that’s 1.2 billion strong & counting, where child marriage is still a reality, where children are raped irrespective of their gender, caste or social strata, he feels we’re not ready to hear the word ‘Intercourse’ on screen yet! The word that I last read 14 years ago in my biology textbook while preparing for my class 10 boards & which got replaced by the word ‘fuck’ as soon as I started college! Thta’s the word he has a problem with & wants beeped out in the new SRK movie, ‘When Harry Met Sejal’. Besides, Mr Nihlani has been a producer in the Indian film industry many moons ago & we all know…that his movies never had the word intercourse in them! Because I have just had breakfast, I do not wish to think about Nihlani’s movies or their sexual innuendos or even the double meaning lyrics because of obvious reasons.
And he not only has a problem with ‘intercourse’, he seems to have a problem with anything that is inherently ‘female’. Case in point, when he banned the movie ‘Lipstick Under My Burkha’ from being screened in India, here’s what was told to the film maker of this movie as to why the movie was banned
“The story is lady oriented, their fantasy about life. There are continuous sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused.”
Obviously, that remark is ridden with more problems than just poor sentence construction & grammar! Anyhow, the makers of the movie went on to get the movie cleared for a theatrical release in India after the country’s Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), decided that the film can be issued an adult certificate, equivalent to an NC-17 rating.
Even before this fiasco, he tried meddling with director/producer Anurag Kashyap, while his movie ‘Udtaa Punjab’ was due to release but fortunately or unfortunately, that controversial & fantastic movie got accidentally ‘leaked’ on you tube, much to the delight of the nation & Mr Nihlani went biting the curb then too!
By this point, I can understand how he would have been feeling powerless & as we all know, desperate times lead to desperate measures & so, in a bid to redeem himself, Mr Nihlani prepared a strategy.
- Aim low. Target a word rather than an entire movie. That way, movie makers would give in without much of a fight & Nihlani would get to feel powerful. A little.
- Chose an SRK movie for maximum impact.
It was all going according to the ‘plan’ when suddenly, he was asked a question by a reporter from a New channel called Mirror Now as to why did he have an objection to the word intercourse? This is what he had to say
“You take voting from the public and I will clear the word (intercourse) on the promo and the film also. I want 1 lakh votes and I want to see that India has changed and Indian families want their 12-year-old kids to understand the meaning of this word (intercourse).”
Now, Mirror Now’s Prime Time debates are hosted by an extremely rational, level headed journalist who hasn’t lost touch of reality or her sense of humour & so, in the right spirit, she, Faye D’Souza, accepted the challenge thrown by Mr Not-So-Smart & was able to gather much more than just 1 lakh votes. And I must say, she didn’t need to put in much of an effort either. Mr Nihlani, are you insane? What did I say our country’s population was? More than 1.2 billion. How many votes did you ask for? 1 lakh. All we had to do was send out a tweet to SRK’s 25 million followers on twitter and the ones who were stuck in traffic at that hour were able to accomplish the task!
What ensued was a laughter riot. It’s alright to fail now & then, but you can easily & gracefully redeem yourself by accepting defeat & stating that the people have spoken & I respect the verdict. But NOOOOOOO It’s a fool we’re talking about here. He has mastered the art of humiliating himself in full public view by now & so not only did he refuse to answer any question posed to him by a rather polite journalist who cornered him in elevator, but he even ended up looking like a nincompoop on National Televion!
You’ve brought the debate from “Whether Nihlani deserves to be Censor Board Cheif” to “Whether there’s a need for a Censor Board at all” Mr Nihlani. That, to me, is your one & only achievement. Hang tight to that.