If you think The Jungle Book is a children’s film, India’s censor board chief Pahlaj Nihalani will force you to think otherwise. Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) chief Nihalani has stoked a fresh controversy with his decision to give a U/A certification to The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling’s eponymous novel.
The censor board chief’s decision to certify The Jungle Book as a film that needs adult supervision ostensibly stems from his objection to certain 3D visuals in the film, which he is reported to have found “scary” for children.
He has also turned down certification for Chandraprakash Dwivedi’s film Mohalla Assi, thereby stalling the film’s release. Incidentally, Dwivedi is also a censor board member. The CBFC chief cited vulgarity as the reason for turning down the certification. Mohalla Assi is based on Dr Kashi Nath’s acclaimed work Kashi Ka Assi.
While his decision has been criticised by the film fraternity, censor board members too have flagged the issue as an indication of Nihalani taking “unilateral decisions”.
“This is not the censor board’s decision, it is Nihalani’s decision. He chose the examining committee to watch the film and he is one who is on the revising committee as well. He takes unilateral decisions and with this U/A certification he is actually underestimating the intelligence of the Indian kids,” filmmaker and censor board member Ashoke Pandit told HT.
While Nihalani could not be reached for his comment, he was quoted by a news publication to have said the 3D effects are “scary” because the “animals seem to jump right at the audience”.
Mohalla Assi which stars actor Sunny Deol ran into trouble when the Allahabad high court hearing a petition on the use of vulgar language in the film’s trailer had sent a notice to the CBFC.
According to a source, though the film has been leaked online, the CBFC has now decided not to give it a certification.
“The film’s producers have the option of approaching the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), a statutory body, under the ministry of information and broadcasting for a hearing. The board’s decision seems untenable, especially when we are moving towards certification not censorship,” a board member said on condition of anonymity.
Watch The Jungle Book trailer here: