Pahlaj Nihalani's series of unfortunate events: A timeline of our favourite CBFC chief's antics
Ever since Pahlaj Nihalani's appointment as the chief of the Central Board of Film Certification of India back in January 2015, the man has refused to stop being in the news. If there is no reason for him to be, he has manufactured one and made sure he sits there prettily amidst our headlines.
And now, he is still making headlines, even as he's all set to disappear. On Friday, 11 August (mark this date in your calenders ladies and gentleman) Nihalani was removed as the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, with adman, poet and writer Prasoon Joshi being appointed as the new chief.
Here is a quick look, a timeline if you may, at Nihalani's antics over the past two and a half odd years as the head of our esteemed (pfft) CBFC.
Jan 19, 2015: Pahlaj Nihalani was appointed as CBFC chief.
Jan 20, 2015: He declared himself a proud BJP man and referred to Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his 'action man' in one of his very first interviews after becoming chief.
Feb, 2015: A list of banned words were introduced by His Highness, which included Bombay (......) and f*ck.
Feb, 2015: Nihalani lashed out at veteran actor Sharmila Tagore (also the former chief of the CBFC) for clearing Omkara, claiming that she was lenient with the movie as it starred her son Saif Ali Khan
March 2015: The movie Un-freedom by director Raj Kumar Amit was not given a release. The movie was centred around homosexual relationships and lead to a widespread protest from the LGBTQ community, activists and moviemakers.
October-November, 2015: The CBFC cut down a portion of a kissing scene in the James Bond movie Spectre, claiming that the board was only following the guidelines that had been set in place since 1952.
November 12, 2015: Salman Khan-Sonam Kapoor starrer Prem Ratan Dhan Payo was released. Released along with it was a video titled Mera Desh Hai Mahaan, which was played during the interval of the film. This beautiful video praised our prime minister while he sat and did some relaxing yoga atop a photoshopped mountain wallpaper.
December 2015: The trailers of the (borderline sex) comedies Kyaa Kool Hain Hum 3 and Mastizaade were released online and the outright vulgarity of the movies were questioned by (sane) people. In response Nihalani said, “We are in a catch-22 situation. Karo toh gaali, na karo toh gaali. When we were strict with the vulgarity quotient, we were called prudes. Sanskaari became a gaali. And to endorse obscenity was seen worthy of taali. So, we certified some films with scenes and dialogues that we would otherwise have never passed as they went against our guidelines," according to a DNA report.
Dec 30, 2015: In response to the Information and Broadcast ministry's questioning of the intent behind the Mastizaade and Kyaa Kool Hai Hum 3, Nihalani said that the decision was taken in order to shed the 'sanskari' image that the CBFC had acquired....
Jan 2016: Hansal Mehta's critically acclaimed cinematic wonder Aligarh was given an 'A' certificate for its homosexuality themes. "Tell me, is the subject of homosexuality for kids? For teenagers? We have already cleared the film and now they are creating a controversy. This is a cheap publicity stunt by him (Mr Mehta)," said Nihalani according to a report.
June 2016: Nawazuddin Siddiqui's Haraamkhor was refused certification by our all powerful CBFC on the grounds that it depicts teachers in an objectionable light. The CBFC’s contention was that educationists occupy a respected position in society, and a depiction of a teacher-student relationship as in Haraamkhor was contrary to that. Anurag Kashyap was a co-producer of the movie, which was finally released a year later.
November 2016: Oscar winning movie La La Land starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone was given an 'A' certificate. Tap dancing on cars and jazz is not in tow with our sanskars you see.
December 2016: Befikre was the next to bear the ire of Mr Nihalani's scissors, as dozens of kissing scenes were chop-chop-chopped as Nihalani stood there with a beatific grin on his face, including one with homesexuals (because DUH)
December 2016: Even Quentin Tarantino was nothing in front of Pahlaj Almighty, as over a minute of the film The Hateful Eight's footage was chopped off.
Jan 2017: This one is too good guys. Vin Diesel-Deepika Padukone starrer xXx: Return of Xander Cage was next. Diesel's teetotalling character was drinking cranberry juice. As a Public Service Announcement, Nihalani wanted that scene to be removed, lest the unsuspecting junta thought it was alcohol (Hai Tauba!)
Jan 2017: This, might take the cake. “I don’t see any (films), I just make them go through the examining committee. I don’t see a single movie, because as per rules I can’t see any movie." ......yup.
February 2017: 7 cuts were asked for from the Ryan Reynolds blockbuster Deadpool.
June 2016: Nihalani recommended EIGHTY FREAKING NINE cuts in Udta Punjab. Then demanded that the Punjab from the title and content of the film which was based on Punjab, shot in Punjab and was about Punjab, be removed.
July 2017: In one of his final actions, he banned smoking and drinking from movies. “If now I am asked to leave, I’d do so just as swiftly, wishing my successor all the best," said Nihalani (finally, getting the cue).
August 2017: Nihalani then filed a police report against Mirror Now reporter alleging harassment, intimidation and breach of privacy.
August 2017: Chopped off a lovemaking scene between lesbians in Charlize Theron's latest movie Atomic Blonde.
11 August, 2017: Bye Bye Pahlaj Nihalani, you will be sorely missed. To the rest of India — Happy Independence Day!