Days after being sacked as the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Pahlaj Nihalani has given a bombshell interview, where he's claimed that he was sacked for not following the orders of newly-elected Union Information and Broadcasting Minister, Smriti Irani.
In an interview with senior journalist Bharati Pradhan for Lehren TV, Nihalani has alleged that Smriti Irani likes to make a splash in whichever Ministry she joins. "At the I&B Ministry, I was their target number 1. It all started when I didn't clear Madhur Bhandarkar's Indu Sarkar. She gave me a call asking why I hadn't done so. I said, I was following guidelines and now the film is already with the Tribunal. I told her if she wants she can get it cleared from the Tribunal. I wasn't massaging her ego and it was only a matter of time before I was thrown out," he said.
Nihalani, however, said that he doesn't think Ekta Kapoor had anything to do with his sacking (a few reports suggested Ekta's proximity with Smriti could've led to his exit).
The former Censor Board chief also went on record to say that he was instructed by the Ministry (didn't specify which) to not clear Abhishek Chaubey's controversial drugs-drama, Udta Punjab, a film that exposed the police-political nexus in enabling the supply of drugs in Punjab.
He said, "There was pressure from every side to not clear the film. I cannot tell you how much pressure I was under. Despite that, I cleared the film albeit with cuts (there were over 70 cuts until the Bombay High Court allowed the film's release with a single one). There was a letter from the Home Ministry to not clear Kabir Khan's Bajrangi Bhaijaan as it was releasing on Eid and they feared that it could lead to communal problems."
Nihalani said that despite a stern letter from the Home Ministry to not clear Bajrangi Bhaijaan, he stood his ground. "I knew the story. It wasn't what they feared. There was miscommunication. I stood by the makers. Yet I was made out to be the villain. Such is the industry," he rued, before calling Kabir Khan 'useless,' and Anurag Kashyap a publicity hound.
Watch the full interview here.
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