Prasoon Joshi will take over from controversial CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani. Joshi was appointed by an order from the Information & Broadcasting Ministry late Friday evening. Reacting to his appointment, Joshi told The Economic Times:
“Over the years, I have always extended my talent and experience to societal causes. Professionally, all through, McCann has been my first priority and continues to be so. The Certification Board is an honorary position and one hopes to make a positive difference with the guidance and support of respected minds.
Nihalani’s three-year term was ending in January 2018. But, a Mirror report states that he was asked to step down early by the Centre due to the frequent complaints against him.
Joshi is well-known for his work as lyricist in films like Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Taare Zameen Par, Fanaa, Lajja to name a few. He has won two National Awards – one for the song ‘Maa’ in Taare Zameen Par and the other for ‘Bolo Na’ in Chittagong.
A new CBFC board has been formed as well, consisting of actors Vidya Balan, Gautami Tadimalla, Jeevitha Rajashekhar, director Vivek Agnihotri, Narendra Kohli, Naresh Chandra Lal, Neil Herbert Nongkynrih, Waman Kendre, T.S. Nagabharana, Ramesh Patange, Vani Tripati Tikoo and Mihir Bhuta.
Through a statement, Balan said that she looked forward to a new phase in which cinema will be allowed to reflect “our sensibilities”.
Nihalani, on being asked about his exit, said that he was stepping down with “no regrets”.
“I had been preparing myself for my exit for months now. Actually, from the time I came in there have been elements working against me, some of them from within the CBFC. These elements — I’m not going to name them on-record are currently celebrating premature Diwali,” he said.
Nihalani also claimed to have abolished “middlemen and touts” from the certification process. Both categories of people were celebrating an early Diwali due to his exit, Nihalani alleged.
He hopes to return to film producing, and is planning on announcing a slew of movie projects soon.
Nihalani took over from danseuse Leela Samson in 2015. Since then, he has reigned over an increasingly intolerant censor board. Films with unconventional themes like Udta Punjab, Ka Bodyscapes etc were refused a censor certificate. It was only after judicial intervention that Nihalani and his CBFC changed their stance. Due to his actions, there is no love lost between the film industry and Nihalani.