Why new Censor Board chief Pahlaj Nihalani should ban his own films first
Pahlaj Nihalani, the new Censor board chief is nursing delusions of being the Dada Phalke of today’s Indian cinema. But somebody should quickly remind him of what he once was: a poor clone of Dada Kondke,
Pahlaj Nihalani is nursing delusions of being the Dada Phalke of today’s Indian cinema. But somebody should quickly remind him of what he once was: a poor clone of Dada Kondke, the darling of the lecherous cinephile, the producer who was loved by voyeurs and turned every cine-gore into a drooling front-bencher.
“I don't mind being called that (a conservative) if I have to serve the nation. You have to take care of the new generation, on whom the future of the country depends. So how can we allow ourselves to give them wrong education? The censor board is very liberal. But what is the modern generation watching? We are giving them the license to see anything. How is this projecting our culture?” he told the Hindu recently.
And if you thought that his bout of morality was limited to just what the last alphabet in AIB stands for, Nihalani has now issued a fatwa banning 36 words in Indian cinema.
So, no more MC, BC in Indian films; no references in the desi lexicon to the human rear or front; complete ban on words inspired by various anatomical parts that we so casually use to call someone an idiot (qtiyapa, no?) and goodbye to songs that have anything other than Milkha following the word Bhaag. WTF, you would say; but sorry even that is banned.
To Nihalni, there is just one humble advice: Sir, why don’t you watch some of the great dharmic films that you once produced for my generation?
For those who associate Nihalani with the MSG-type videos he produced for Narendra Modi (he says the PM is his action hero) during the Lok Sabha campaign; let me tell you that a few decades ago our censor board chief was among Bollywood’s top film producers, specialising in films inspired by Dada Kondke.
In the late 80s Kondke, the famous Marathi actor-producer, became a rage among lascivious front-benchers by perfecting a clever cinematic model—that of producing low-budget films that made lots of money simply because they dealt in double entendres and had double meaning titles. Samples: Andheri raat mein diya tere haath mein; Khol de meri (in large font) zubaan (in invisible font).
In 1994, the current censor board chief produced a Kondkeisque film titled Andaaz (the extra a because it should have been certified AA). The film had a soundtrack only somebody with Nihalani’s moral courage and cultural finesse could have hummed at home.
Here are the top three songs of the film, as they appear in the album: Khada hai, khada hai, khada hai (a visibly aroused Anil Kapoor urging his newly-wed wife Juhi Chawla to open the door with understandable urgency); Le lo, le lo mera; and Ye (originally mein) maal gaadi mujhe dhakka laga (the aforementioned wife urging the husband to push fast as the engine had become hot and now it needs to reach the destination). Another one, featuring Anil Kapoor and Karishma Kapoor (his student in the film), announced the duo’s intention that ‘roz karenge hum karenge ku ku ku ku.’
Nihalani’s films were among the pioneers of the pelvis-thrust-in, bust- thrust-out choreography that later ushered in the sarkae-lo-khatiya age of Indian cinema. In his 1992-93 film Aankhen, Shilpa Shirodkar swayed so suggestively to ‘Khet gaye Baba, Bazaar gayee maa; akeli hun ghar ma tu aaja balma' that many cinema owners were forced to lock the loos to keep out the jerks in the audience from spending too much time inside. And Lal Dupatte Wali became a rage only because Aankhen’s film’s heroines ever so subtley raised the hemline of their skirts while singing ‘Har kisi ke liye ye khirki nahin khulti.’
But now the purveyor of double-entendres and producer of choreographed erotica wants to sanitise Indian films. After titillating the ‘future generation’ of his age, Nihalani is now concerned about what people watch in cinemas.
Perhaps Nihalani could learn from his own plight. His film Andaaz, in spite of raunchy songs, a voyeuristic camera that seldom strayed away from Karishma’s derriere and bust, bombed at the box office. It was so lewd and loud, that even inveterate Kondke fans found it embarrassing to watch.
Obviously, Indian viewers are intelligent enough to know what to accept and what to reject. And they also know which finger is to be shown to a self-sanctimonious hypocrite, provided this gesture is not in Nihalani’s list of 36.
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