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Alia Bhatt’s name in Judwaa 2: Why did the Censor Board have a problem with that?

A passing mention of Bollywood actor Alia Bhatt in a line spoken by Varun Dhawan in Judwaa 2 delayed the film’s certification. Filmmakers react to the no-objection rule of the Central Board of Film Certification.

bollywood Updated: Sep 28, 2017 20:26 IST
Yashika Mathur
Yashika Mathur
Hindustan Times
Judwaa 2,Alia Bhatt,Varun Dhawan
Actor Alia Bhatt’s name mentioned in the film Judwaa 2 created a hurdle for the film’s certification by the Censor Board.(Satish Bate / HT PHOTO)

Does one need a friend’s permission to say her name? Bollywood may feel relaxed about it, because it’s sort of “all in the family”, but the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), aka, the Censor Board, believes that permission is required.

And so, when filmmaker David Dhawan took his film Judwaa 2 to the Board for certification, he was asked to first get a no-objection certificate (NOC) from actor Alia Bhatt. And that’s because there’s a passing mention of Alia in one of the dialogues spoken by the film’s lead, Varun Dhawan. Without the NOC, that dialogue would have to go.

This isn’t a new rule, but it’s a rule that’s not always enforced. Veteran actor Manoj Kumar had expressed his unhappiness after the release of the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Om Shanti Om (2007), in which he had allegedly been spoofed — Manoj Kumar said that his permission hadn’t been taken.

Anurag Srivastava, the Chief Executive Officer of CBFC, says about the latest case, “This has been part of the CBFC guidelines and any filmmaker has to get a no-objection certificate from the person whose name is being used.”

In other instances, with films such as Shootout at Lokhandwala (2007) and Enemmy (2013), the names of other actors were deleted from dialogues or lyrics were altered to avoid any objections.

Former CBFC chairperson Pahlaj Nihalani says that this practice is a part of the guidelines. “No filmmaker has ever objected to this. Bollywood is like a big family and everyone co-operates. During my tenure, this rule was there, but nobody talked about it,” says Nihalani, who was recently replaced by adman-lyricist Prasoon Joshi.

A still from the film Jolly LLB 2, in which actor Akshay Kumar uses actor Salman Khan’s name in a dialogue.

Doesn’t this add one more layer of paperwork for the filmmaker? “It does become a little tedious,” says filmmaker Shashank Khaitan. He adds, “We’re friends in the industry and generally keep [it] in mind about each other’s nod of approval, but if the CBFC wants it as an NOC, there’s no harm in that.”

Trade analyst Atul Mohan says that now the CBFC “wants to be careful”, because objections were raised in the past regarding songs with names of other celebrities.

Not everyone appears to know that such a rule exists. Filmmaker Subhash Kapoor, whose film Jolly LLB 2 had references to Sunny Deol and Salman Khan, asks in surprise, “Has the new CBFC panel introduced this? I’ll have to find this out.”

Filmmaker Anubhav Sinha feels that this might just be an interpretation of a certain clause. He says, “Every time a CBFC chairperson comes in, they interpret a clause their way. It’s a subjective interpretation. There might not be a clause that says in so many words, ‘If you use a celebrity’s name, you have to get an NOC.’ I’m sure a certain clause in the act (Cinematograph Act, 1952) can be interpreted like this.”

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First Published: Sep 28, 2017 20:24 IST