Pahlaj Nihalani is no more the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). He has been replaced by well-known lyricist and adman Prasoon Joshi. Surprisingly, the outgoing chair was in a rather relaxed frame of mind a few hours after the news of his dethronement went viral. Pahlaj, who was perhaps the most controversial chairperson of the CBFC, says, “I had been preparing myself for the exit since a few months. Actually, from the time I came in, there have been elements working against me, some of them from within the CBFC. These elements — I am not going to name them on record — are currently celebrating Diwali in advance. They are in a festive mood because of my ouster.”
So, does he have any regrets about his journey with the CBFC so far? “None at all. Believe me, I was brought in as the CBFC chairperson all of a sudden. I happily took up the job that the government thought I was fit for. Now when the government has asked me to step down, I do so without any regret. It was a big challenge while it lasted. When I came in there was rampant corruption in the CBFC. I got rid of all the middlemen who made money in the censor certification process. They, too, must be celebrating Diwali in advance this year,” says Pahlaj, laughing.
He refrains from commenting on Prasoon becoming his successor. “Whoever takes over from me is welcome to do so. I only hope he doesn’t reverse the work that I started at the CBFC. I feel we have achieved a lot in the past three years. We’ve speeded up the certification process and made it entirely digital. I just hope my successor doesn’t succumb to false notions of liberalism propagated by the pseudo-progressive elements in our film industry and work in the opposite direction.
“Do I have any regrets? None at all. I worked with all my sincerity and with utmost honesty. In the process, I offended a lot of the so-called progressive elements. I also got labelled as a ‘sanskari censor chief’. I am proud of that label. I hope I am remembered as the CBFC chairperson who took a firm stand against vulgarity and pseudo-liberalism, no matter how unpopular it made me.”
Talking about his future plans, Pahlaj says that he would return to his first love of producing films. “I will soon be announcing a slew of films. It’s been a highly satisfying tenure at the CBFC for me. But it’s also been exhausting and time-consuming. I am happy to make way for someone else,” he says and signs off.