The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) which is routinely in the news for bizarre reasons, may just have outdone itself this time around.
The Pahlaj-Nihalani-led Board's Examining Committee, which comprises the first stage of the film certification process, refused to certify Dr. Chandraprakash Dwivedi's controversial film Mohalla Assi, reported Bollywood Hungama on Friday. The film takes a tough stand on the commercialisation of religion in the holy city of Varanasi, particularly exposing the saadhus who exploit foreigners by luring them under the pretext of spirituality.
Starring Sunny Deol, Sakshi Tanwar, and Ravi Kishen, the film — whose trailer has been online for nearly a year — features liberal use of profanity, with a character in the trailer even explaining the importance of using 'colourful' language.
Why is this bizarre, you ask? Well, Dr Dwivedi, who has previously made the Partition drama Pinjar (2003), is currently a member of the very same Censor Board.
The makers have now decided to move directly to the Tribunal as Tiwari is not confident that the Board's Revising Committee, traditionally the second stage of the certification process, will give the film a fair chance
According to Mumbai Mirror, the film's producer Vinay Tiwari alleges that Mohalla Assi has been denied certification because of CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani's rivalry with Dwivedi, who is also a Board member and has had multiple differences with Nihalani.
While Dwivedi refused to comment on the controversy, another Board member Ashoke Pandit told Mirror, "The CBFC can suggest cuts or certify a film as 'U', 'U/A' or 'A', but they cannot refuse it a certificate. But what else can you expect from a Chairman (Pahlaj Nihalani) who gives a 'U/A' certificate to a children's film, The Jungle Book. This is an insult to a National Award winning filmmaker of the calibre of Chadraprakash Diwedi and the film industry in general."
The makers have now decided to move directly to the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal as Tiwari is not confident that the Board's Revising Committee, traditionally the second stage of the certification process, will give the film a fair chance. "We don't want to go to the Revising Committee (RC) because a couple of months earlier, after our trailer was rejected by the EC, we had approached the RC. Pahlajji had watched it himself and rejected it again. So there's no point going to the RC. I believe that what is happening is because of the differences between Pahlaj and Chardraprakash Dwivedi," he told the newspaper.
HuffPost India attempted to contact Nihalani for a comment but phone calls to him went unanswered.
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