NewsX Connect: Film Critic Murtaza Ali Khan discusses Pahlaj Nihalani's regressive tactics as the CBFC Chairperson

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I was recently invited as a invited by News X to participate in a panel discussion on Pahlaj Nihalani's latest attack on creative freedom. This time it was Imtiaz Ali's Jab Harry Met Sejal that was on his target. Nihalani took serious objection to use of word 'intercourse' in the recently released movie promo. Not only did he refuse to pass the promo but he also threatened to take serious action against the television channels which aired it while conceding that internet was outside his control. The same drew strong responses from the Twitterati which found it difficult to understand this hypocrisy. At one side you know that internet is the way forward with everyone emphasizing upon Digital India and Cashless economy. And despite being fully aware that everything is already available on the internet sans censorship (with few exceptions) Pahlaj Nihalani continues to target movie makers and television channels. Today when a trailer is released almost everyone first watches it on YouTube.

Also, it is worth mentioning that CBFC is a certification board and not a censor board. The CBFC norms are driven by the 1952 Cinematograph Act and over the years CBFC has shown more discretion in how they chose to scrutinized the films. But even since Pahlaj Nihalani took over he has unleashed a very regressive agenda in the manner CBFC operates. Today, every second film ends up in FCAT in the hope of a more favorable scrutiny. Filmmakers and writers constantly worry about the draconian censorship norms with the creativity taking the back seat. I strongly believe that while assessing a content one needs to be mindful of its intent, treatment and verisimilitude. If the intent is right and the treatment is just all we need to see is how realistic is the depiction and if these three things fall in line then I don't see why a film or any similar creative offering would be subjected to any unnecessary scrutiny.

All these thoughts and more became central to the discussion.

The full discussion can be watched at:

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your valuable thoughts are highly appreciated!  

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