CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani ‘bans’ smoking and drinking from films, addresses firing rumours | bollywood | Hindustan Times
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CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani ‘bans’ smoking and drinking from films, addresses firing rumours

Censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani has effectively ‘banned’ scenes that feature smoking and drinking in films. He also addresses rumours that he has been removed from his post.

bollywood Updated: Jul 25, 2017 18:42 IST
HT Correspondent
Pahlaj Nihalani said, “We feel the superstars who are followed by millions and who set an example in societal behaviour must not be shown drinking or smoking on screen unless the provocation for doing so is really strong.”
Pahlaj Nihalani said, “We feel the superstars who are followed by millions and who set an example in societal behaviour must not be shown drinking or smoking on screen unless the provocation for doing so is really strong.”

CBFC chief Pahlaj Nihalani’s day was more eventful than usual. There were rumours that he was on his way out, and another, which alleged that he had banned drinking and smoking from films altogether.

He addressed both questions in responses to the Quint.

Regarding his ouster, he said, “So far I have not heard of any such plans from the government. I am sure my well-wishers are holding their breath. But they can exhale for now. As far as being asked to relinquish my post as the CBFC chairperson is concerned, I leave the decision entirely to the government. It was they who asked me to take over in January 2015. The decision to hire me was a complete surprise to me. I immediately took charge and began working to the best of my abilities. If now I am asked to leave, I’d do so just as swiftly, wishing my successor all the best.”

Pahlaj Nihalani believes leading men should not smoke and drink on screen.

But about the ‘ban’ on drinking, he was more vague. He said, “Merely putting a ticker warning at some remote corner of the screen whenever there is smoking or drinking shown, is not enough any more. We feel the superstars who are followed by millions and who set an example in societal behaviour must not be shown drinking or smoking on screen unless the provocation for doing so is really strong.”

A CBFC board member, who spoke to HT on condition of anonymity, said there had been no communication about the reported ban on smoking or alcohol consumption on screen. “We don’t know if this is his personal decision. Nothing has been conveyed to us,” the member said.

It should be made clear that the CBFC cannot ban films. Their job is to simply certify. But as we saw in the case of the recently-released Lipstick Under My Burkha, the board can also outright refuse to rate films - which essentially amounts to a ban, because barring an overruling by a tribunal, the film cannot be released.

What this also means - if this mandate passes - is that we might never see stars like Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan consuming alcohol in their films.

Nihalani’s tenure as chief has been marred by controversy, with many industry figures accusing his world view as being too regressive.

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