Amid the controversy surrounding Anurag Kashyap’s upcoming film Udta Punjab, Pahlaj Nihalani on Wednesday refused to step down as the Censor Board chief or offer an apology. In fact, he went on to say that he is proud to be the chamcha of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“Of course, I am a chamcha. I have no objection in being the chamcha of the prime minister... I have never met Modi and have never made attempts to meet him either,” a defiant Nihalani told an NDTV reporter.
“As one among the 125 crore Indian citizens, if I won’t be the chamcha of Indian prime minister, should I be the Italian prime minister’s chamcha,” Nihalani shot back at the reporter, when asked whether Nihalani’s image of being a Modi chamcha affected Nihalani’s independence as the head of the entertainment watchdog.
Nihalani, the controversial chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), has been the facing criticism from several quarters in the ongoing battle with Abhishek Chaubey's Udta Punjab after the censor board wanted references to Punjab removed from the movie including its title.
The entire film industry has also thrown its weight behind Udta Punjab team to protest against the censor board's draconian decision to award 89 cuts to the drama, starring Shahid Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Kareena Kapoor Khan, and Diljit Dosanjh.
Co-producer Anurag Kashyap had demanded an apology from Nihalani, accusing him of conspiring to stall his film and said that the censor board chief’s action was an insult to the ‘entire industry’.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal came out in support of Udta Punjab team by tweeting, "Pahlaj Nihlani's statement makes it amply clear that he has stopped the film on the BJP's instructions."
Meanwhile, Nihalani denied of any political influence in the censor board's decision on Udta saying, "The Centre never interferes with the censor board, there was no political influence," he said.
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