Govt Pressured Me On Indu Sarkar, Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Udta Punjab, Smriti Irani's Ego Forced Me Out: Nihalani
THE CITIZEN BUREAU
NEW DELHI: Former Censor Board Chief Pahlaj Nihalani, unceremoniously dumped by the government five months ahead of his tenure, has hit out at the government for continuous interference in the release of movies like Udta Punjab, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Indu Sarkar.
Nihalani who as he himself said, came in as the censor board chief as suddenly as he was asked to leave, has had a chequered career alienating the powerful Bollywood industry with his very heavy use of the scissors. He has now said in an interview to Lehren Television, his first candid talk really, that in all cases he was under tremendous pressure from the government, and had to take the flak when actually he was just following directions.
The Union Home Ministry he said, wrote to him to stop the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan during Eid citing law and order as the reason. “The Union Home Ministry told me not to release Bajrangi Bhaijaan during Eid”, he said categorically, maintaining in his half complete sentences that he himself held no such reservations. And as he was from the film industry, he did not buy into the arguments of “love jihad and all that”.
“ I wrote three letters to the Ministry in four or five days, this letter came from the home ministry because of law and order, I went out of the way, I was aware that there was a misunderstanding between the government and the media...I supported it but even then Salman Khan and the director made me the villain...that director Kabir Khan is a useless fellow, totally unprofessional, I didn’t give any cut in his film they made me the villain…” he said.
Nihalani said that he was removed by Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani because of Indu Sarkar. And in a bid to assert her position as a powerful Minister, according to him.
“As soon as she came , from the first first day there was only one hangup Indu Sarkar. Indu Sarkar was an issue, and Smriti Irani was also an issue, any Ministry she has gone to she has dominated the thing, and here I was a man who was completely in the media, definitely to make me fall kitna time lagega”, Nihalani said.
“Then she told me why are you not clearing Indu Sarkar without cut, I said I will go with the processes, movie is in the tribunal”, he added.
“Her ego nahi hua, she wanted to show her presence in the I&B Ministry and who could be a bigger target than me. What is the reason to remove me, reason is I did not listen to her, did not agree to release Indu Sarkar without a cut, that's the only thing. Now she has registered herself as a powerful Minister wherever she goes, and that she knows the industry better than me,” the former Censor Board chief said.
He attacked the Censor Board office and the film industry, speaking of corruption, of money being paid to release promos, of bypassing rules. And that he was blamed for things he did not do, such as the cuss list that Nihalani said was prepared in 2003 for internal circulation in the Censor Board, and that it was not one prepared by him.
He said that he had come under tremendous pressure from the government to censor Udta Punjab. And was told by the government here, from Punjab , from everywhere, and finally he cut the content and ensured the release.
On Lipstick Under My Burkha Nihalani said that it was passed by the review committee, And that if it had not got all the publicity it would have been a ‘no show’.
Nihalani was particularly bitter about film director Anurag Kashyap, insisting that he “manipulated” the Censor Board on his movie Gangs Of Wasseypur. He claimed that Kashyap had agreed to the cuts but then got the certificate with the words intact. He said that the film director only created a controversy involving the Censors with his smaller films, to get the publicity, and use this as a promo. He never bothers doing this with big star cast films, he said.