Government Removes Controversial Censor Board Boss Pahlaj Nihalani

Nihalani, whose tenure was set to finish next January, will be replaced by well-known lyricist Prasoon Joshi.

Central Board of Film Certification Chairperson, Pahlaj Mihalani Credit: PTI

Central Board of Film Certification chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani. Credit: PTI

New Delhi: The government has replaced Pahlaj Nihalani, the controversial chief of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) whose critics accused him of irrational and absurd decisions aimed at creating a more sanitised Indian film industry.

According to multiple media reports, Nihalani was sacked, although this could not be independently confirmed. Nihalani, who was appointed in January 2015, would have stepped down next January as part of his three-year-appointment.

According to a government release, well-known lyricist and industry personality Prasoon Joshi will be the new censor board boss while actor Vidya Balan will join the organisation’s board.

Over the last two years, Nihalani attracted a reputation of demanding too many cuts, often for minor or absurd infractions. He has also been criticised as being too ‘sanskari‘ (traditional and conservative): the CBFC most recently asked the producers of Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Jab Harry Met Sejal to delete any dialogue that made reference to sexual intercourse.

In an interview with The Wire last month, Nihalani defended his actions, saying that Indian censors “are currently far more liberal than in many other countries” and that the CBFC under him was “different from the fish market environment” that existed earlier.

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